ANOTHER VIEWPOINT: Solving Indiana’s voter apathy problem


To paraphrase the old saying, everybody talks about voter apathy, but nobody does anything about it.

In fact, despite some efforts to engage Hoosier voters, Indiana’s election turnout has been consistently bleak. But a new report from the Indiana State Bar Association and a coalition of nonpartisan groups offers suggestions to change that.

The fourth Indiana Civic Health Index, released last week, is focused on “taking a closer look at how the state’s civic health has changed over time with a particular focus on voter turnout and registration.”

The first three reports, using data from the National Conference on Citizenship’s analysis of the U.S. Census Current Population Survey and other sources, measured Hoosier civic engagement and set a baseline. This year’s report goes a step further by identifying the key problems of voting and registration and offers suggestions for addressing them.

As the report makes clear — and to the surprise of no one who’s been paying attention — there’s significant room for improvement. Consider that the state’s trend of placing in the lower half of all states in voter registration and voting turnout is persistent since 2010.

While data from the 2018 midterms show some improvement in both registration and turnout, the state remains in the bottom 10 of all states on these indicators. The highest rank achieved on voter registration from 2010 to 2018 is 37th.

Also among the findings is that Hoosiers participate in such civic activities as volunteering and giving and membership in groups in rates higher than the national average.

And the state ranks second nationally in the category of “posting views on social, political and local issues on the internet/social media.” Also, 80% of Hoosiers “frequently read, watch or listen to news or information about social, political, local issues,” the eighth highest ranking.

The final section of the report ( offers two recommendations. One is to form a civic education task force to promote engagement for all ages. The second recommendation is to increase voting turnout with the goal of moving the state from the bottom 10 to the top 10.

Such a move will require a focused effort, as the report’s authors acknowledge. But the push to get more Hoosiers participating in our democracy through voting will help strengthen communities, empowering them to face the challenges ahead. It’s a goal worth pursuing.