The Journal Gazette
 
 
Monday, February 03, 2020 1:00 am

Panelists stress importance of every vote

Want to see higher turnout

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

Bill Moreau doesn't just want Indiana to move out of the bottom 10 states for voter turnout. He wants to see the Hoosier State claim one of the top 10 spots.

That, however, would need a 20% increase in voter turnout this year – a goal requiring considerable effort, Moreau told an audience Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Fort Wayne.

“If we're gonna get Indiana into the top 10, it will require a big campaign,” said Moreau, president of The Indiana Citizen, a nonpartisan, nonprofit platform dedicated to increasing the number of informed, engaged voters. “Need your help.”

More than 50 people listened for over an hour as Moreau addressed voting issues with fellow panelists Maye Johnson of the Allen County Board of Voter Registration and Andy Downs, director of the Mike Downs Center for Indiana Politics at Purdue University Fort Wayne.

Downs assured the audience that they can have faith in elections conducted locally.

“Allen County goes to great lengths, and has for decades, to run elections that are fair, that are accurate and really should give people much more confidence in the process than they may have because of what we see in other jurisdictions,” Downs said.

But there isn't a magic solution to getting people to the polls, he said.

Numerous factors contribute to why people don't vote, he said.

People often think their vote doesn't matter, he said, particularly in the presidential race. When he pushes them about why they don't vote, they realize that is just one office on the ballot, and their vote could make an impact elsewhere.

“There is always a race you can find that matters to people,” Downs said.

Johnson stressed the role of personal responsibility and voter registration, which must be updated with name and address changes. Outdated information can disqualify signatures on candidate and referendum petitions, she said.

“This process is too important as a part of our democracy to screw it up,” Johnson said.

It's also important for voters to check their registration, Johnson said. The voter list is regularly maintained, a process that includes removing the deceased.

Mistakes can happen, she said, especially when people share names.

“Any mistake that we make, we have to correct it, and we have to give you a certificate of error,” Johnson said.

“Nothing that is done to remove voters from rolls can't be corrected.”

Hoosiers can check their voter registration at https://indianavoters.in.gov.

Those wanting to help raise turnout for the 2020 election may visit The Indiana Citizen at www.indianacitizen.org, which accepts donations and volunteers.

Those wanting to help people register to vote should contact the Allen County Voter Registration Office at 260-449-7154 to learn the rules, Johnson said. She noted there are legal issues when conducting third-party voter registration.

“It's a serious process,” Johnson said. “That's not to say you can't have fun with it, but you need to know what you're doing.”

asloboda@jg.net


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