Next month, voters in Indiana's cities and towns will go to the polls -- as long as they're already registered to vote.
In Indiana, voter registration ends 29 days before an election, which is on the high end of advance registration requirements among states. Thirteen states currently offer same-day voter registration. As the map here shows, all those states had substantially higher voter turnout than Indiana in 2014.
In fact, Hoosier voters turned out in historically low numbers in 2014, 28 percent, the lowest in the nation. That fact has led to questions about why voter apathy is so high and what can be done to remedy it.
Some of those questions lead to the mechanics of getting to vote: early registration requirements, along with our 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. polling schedule, among the shortest in the nation.
Other questions lead to the lack of competitive Congressional races. To the victor go the spoils, and Statehouse Republicans in the majority have drawn Congressional lines to favor GOP wins. Among the changes in 2011 was the shifting of Democratic-leaning Michigan City from the 2nd District to U.S. Rep. Pete Visclosky's 1st District. Getting those voters out of the 2nd District helped Republican U.S. Rep. Jackie Walorski win what had been a swing district in previous election cycles.
And then there's Indiana's 2005 voter ID law, which has been the model of similar laws enacted in other states. Passed with the intent of preventing voter fraud, the law did nothing to address the proven voter fraud that occurred in Indiana. You'll remember the 2003 East Chicago mayoral primary between Robert Pastrick and George Pabey that was nullified due to rampant absentee ballot fraud. Whatever the intent of Voter ID, it doesn't help turnout numbers.
If you want to increase voting, proven solutions are out there. Oregon, which had 70 percent voter turnout in 2014, holds all elections with mail-in ballots and recently passed a law to automatically register any adult that has had an interaction with the Department of Motor Vehicles.
Public officials may pay lip service to promoting voter turnout, but public policy tells a different story. In Indiana, increasing the number of voters is just not a priority.