FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – On Tuesday, Americans celebrate the ninth annual National Voter Registration Day with efforts across the country to register voters ahead of election day in November.
A new national study shows registration levels for Indiana’s youngest voters, ages 18-19, are more than 50% lower than in 2016, ranking Indiana dead last.
“It ought to be a sign that we better do something pretty purposeful, pretty intentional and pretty aggressive over the next 13 days or this muscle memory, this habit won’t develop,” said Bill Moreau, president of the Indiana Citizen Education Foundation and the One More Voice campaign.
He said Indiana needs to create a stronger culture around voting and also pass it down to the younger generation.
Particular to 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic has also stunted voting advocacy groups from spreading awareness inside schools.
“Clearly we are not going into the schools right now,” said Linda Hanson, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Indiana. “That creates all kinds of issues for the typical way that we have registered students.”
They’re hoping schools will influence students.
“We are begging school superintendents and principals and teachers and coaches and parents to please get your 18 and 19 year olds registered,” Moreau pleaded.
ICEF is using social media advertising on Instagram and Snapchat to reach young people.
COVID-19 does not appear to be affecting voter registration numbers in Allen County, according to the Allen County Voter Registration Board. They’re expecting the number of registered voters to be about the same this year as the general election four years ago.
For the 2016 general election, 276,410 people in the county registered. So far this year, the number is at around 263,000. That’s about 13,000 less voters with 13 days left to register, but Allen County Voter Registration Board Member Barry Schust is expecting a lot of people to register in the next two weeks.
“Overall, I think we’re on pace probably to match the numbers of four years ago,” he said. “I think they’re going to be similar. I think one could probably speculate that perhaps due to the pandemic more people are staying home and perhaps they’re in front of their computers and taking advantage of that and going ahead to indianavoters.gov and updating their registration or registering.”
The board said COVID did impact the number of third-party organizers who would go out in public and get people registered to vote, the types that set up booths at concerts, baseball games and the like. They opted out for safety reasons, but it appears that more voters are just finding their way online to register.
Voter registration ends on October 5. Starting October 6, in-person voting starts at the coliseum. Those dates and times vary continuing through November 2. A link can be found here with more detailed information.
The Allen County Election Board has moved its offices temporarily this year to the coliseum to help provide safe and effective voting opportunities for voters in Allen County.
On September 18, almost 19,000 absentee ballots for Allen County were mailed out. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is October 22. Applications must be sent to your county election board office by noon on election day, November 3.
You can track your mailed ballot on line at indianavoters.in.gov. Click on Visit My Voter Portal, enter your information and find the Absentee Ballot Information.
November 3 is general Election Day. Polls throughout Indiana are open from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. If you need information on your polling location visit indianavoters.in.gov.
All people doing business with the Election Board in Allen County should enter the Coliseum parking lot at entrance 1 (Coliseum Blvd.) or entrance 2 (Parnell Avenue). Park in the main lot and enter the building at the Arena & Expo Center entrance. Free parking is available.
Facebook estimates it has helped 2.5 million people register to vote so far throughout its platforms, which include Instagram and Messenger. Facebook’s goal is to register 4 million people this year.
For additional Indiana Voter information visit the Voter Portal on in.gov.