January 31 2022 | The Indiana Citizen Newsletter
The 2021 edition of the Indiana Civic Health Index was released last week. For our present-from-the-beginning supporters, you recall it was the 2019 edition that provided the impetus for our work to improve voter registration, education and turnout.
Well, Indiana had record turnout in 2020, but the rest of the country’s was greater, so we dropped from 41st in 2016 to 46th in 2020.
Our turnout is the lowest among our neighboring states—that’s right, lower than Kentucky—and puts us in the same company with Alabama, West Virginia and Arkansas.
If you have 48 minutes, here’s a recording of the news conference announcing the release of the report. I was honored to be one of the speakers, joining the president of the Indiana Bar Foundation, Chuck Dunlap, the Index’s principal author, IU Northwest Prof. Ellen Szarleta, and retired Chief Justice Randall Shepard.
The Bar Foundation—so ably led by Chuck for 20 years–has been the driving force behind the Civic Health Index since the first edition published in 2011. The active, visible support of two of Indiana’s greatest statespeople, retired Congressman Lee Hamilton and then-Chief Justice Shepard, has been key to the Index’s credibility and wide dissemination. Prof. Szarleta is a renowned scholar and patient, responsive colleague.
Here’s an example of the coverage the release of the 2021 Index received.
With the General Assembly in session, you’d think the supermajorities would react with embarrassment and urgency to such news by promoting policies that increase registration and turnout. Nope, they’re advancing legislation explicitly aimed at reducing the number of absentee voters.
Meanwhile, the supermajority in control of the Indianapolis City-County Council has embarked on required council redistricting by replicating the charade used by their counterparts in charge of the General Assembly—holding hearings before new maps are proposed– and explicitly rejecting the use of an independent advisory redistricting commission.
In 2017, some of these same councilors passed a resolution demanding the General Assembly convene an independent redistricting commission. But that was before the 2019 election created their own supermajority. The old “that was then, this is now” defense.
I hope you clicked on the link to our coverage of the Council redistricting. It’s written by Tyler Fenwick, a reporter for the venerable Indianapolis Recorder. Our editors Kevin Morgan and Oseye Boyd have been collaborating actively since the September redistricting session. You might recall that the Recorder hosted a well-attended town hall meeting during our “Racial Justice Requires Fair Maps” campaign. We hope our collaboration will grow and deepen in 2022.
I know our regular supporters have grown accustomed to concluding our monthly newsletter with a donation plea. This is it! Frankly, we’re off to a slow start on the fundraising side, so please contribute soon.
Yes, we made a big fundraising push at the end of 2021 to qualify—successfully!–for the NewsMatch program. But it’s a new year! Won’t you help us hold public officials accountable for the civic health of Indiana while we register, educate and turn out Hoosier voters in this election year?
Co-Founder (with Ann) and President, Indiana Citizen Education Foundation, Inc.
Publisher, The Indiana Citizen
The Indiana Citizen Education Foundation, Inc. is a non-partisan, non-profit platform dedicated to increasing the number of informed, engaged Hoosier citizens.