NewsPublic Affairs / October 20, 2020

Young Voter Turnout Is Low. The Indiana Kids Election Aims To Change That

Original story from   IPBS-RJC

Article origination IPBS-RJC
Outreach surrounding the 2020 Indiana Kids Election has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but organizers are continuing their efforts to get more kids familiar with, and excited about the process of voting.  - Justin Hicks/IPB News

Outreach surrounding the 2020 Indiana Kids Election has been delayed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but organizers are continuing their efforts to get more kids familiar with, and excited about the process of voting.

Justin Hicks/IPB News

Voter turnout among young people is usually low – and in Indiana, youth voting numbers are even lower than the national average. 

But the Indiana Kids Election aims to change that. 

It's a state-backed effort to provide election-focused lessons and materials leading up to the election. Attorneys visit classrooms across the state, with lesson plans and other materials for teachers to use available online.

Then, students of all ages cast a mock ballot on election day, voting for key offices like president, governor, and attorney general

Tim Kalgreen, director of civic education for the Indiana Bar Foundation, said it's critical to get students involved so they're more likely to become lifelong voters.

"Voting is important, it's the way citizens really get to tell their government how they want things to work," he said.

READ MORE: Can I Vote By Mail? Here's What You Need To Know For Indiana's Elections

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Kalgreen said it's designed to get students familiar with the process from a young age and encourage them to become regular voters – and not just during presidential elections.

"Voting is something that you do every year, if not twice a year depending on how you look at the primary and the general. There's something on the ballot every year," he said.

Kalgreen said outreach efforts have been slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, but the election is still on. 

According to national data, Indiana voter registration among young people was fairly high in 2016, at 65 percent – three percentage points higher than the national average. But when it came to actual votes, young voter turnout fell to just 35 percent – three points below the national average.

Contact reporter Jeanie at jlindsa@iu.edu or follow her on Twitter at @jeanjeanielindz.

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