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Hoosier Voting Made Easier with Indiana Citizen

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When it comes to voter registration and turnout, Indiana is consistently in the bottom 20 percent of states. An estimated 1.7 million Hoosiers who are eligible to vote have never registered.

How to reach them? A new nonprofit, the Indiana Citizen, has begun a statewide campaign to connect with eligible voters and provide election information via one online resource. The goal is to increase Indiana turnout in 2020 by 20 percent.

“We need to reach voters with the message that no matter where they stand politically, it’s crucial that they participate in the process. The health of our democracy depends on it,” said Bill Moreau, 67, of Indianapolis, a retired lawyer and cofounder of the Indiana Citizen.

Moreau and his wife, Ann, 73, share a passion for civic engagement. Together they came up with the idea for the Indiana Citizen, a nonpartisan, unbiased platform through which voters in all of the state’s 92 counties can easily find information about local candidates’ positions.

Many online resources inform citizens about how to register to vote, where to vote and who’s on the ballot, but determining each candidate’s stance on key issues can be more challenging.

Fighting voter apathy

AARP Indiana has been collaborating with the Indiana Citizen to “amplify their message” of voter engagement, said Sarah Waddle, AARP Indiana state director.

The organizations have partnered in other activities and plan to hold a telephone town hall.

Voter apathy is a multigenerational problem, said Kevin Morgan, a veteran journalist and director of digital content at the Indiana Citizen.

“Participation could be higher in every age group. None is anywhere close to 100 percent,” Morgan observed. “From our review of available data, it appears those 65 and older participate at higher rates.”

“We concluded we should try to encourage our fellow Hoosiers to vote, without caring how they will vote,” Moreau said.

This led to registering the Indiana Citizen as a nonprofit 501(c)(3), “so we are strictly and scrupulously nonpartisan in our focus.” To date, the organization has about 300 donors.

Morgan said he’ll apply the same standards of excellence in compiling voter information for all 92 counties that he did throughout his decades-long career as an editor and reporter responsible for unbiased election coverage at the Indianapolis Star.

Given the enormous task of organizing all the data, a complete voter guide will not be available until after the June primaries, but it should be ready in time for the November elections.

“It will be a challenge,” Morgan said. “We’re considering a variety of approaches and partnerships.”

He hopes to tap into AARP Indiana’s large network of volunteers, to get them to promote the mission of increased voter registration and turnout within their families, churches, clubs and social circles.

“We look forward to a true partnership,” he said. “We’re confident that we will deliver the best guide for voters that Indiana has ever seen.”

And, the Indiana Citizen hopes, deliver voters to the polls, too.

Visit indianacitizen.org to learn more or aarp.org/in for more on 2020 voter engagement.

Diana Lamirand is a writer living in Noblesville.

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