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Civic index numbers show Indiana trails most states in voter turnout

September 14, 2011

The inaugural Indiana Civic Health Index shows that while the state is on-par with national standards in volunteerism, its voter turnout and registration are among the lowest in the country.

The report measures family interaction, voting habits, involvement with social groups and other areas to determine citizens’ level of engagement in their communities and with each other. Results are measured in relation to other states and the District of Columbia.

Indiana earned above-average marks for involvement in religious, school, sports, and other groups, with 36.2 percent of residents reporting involvement in such groups. Indiana ranked 21st in group associations. In 2010, 26.1 percent of Indiana citizens volunteered their time to help others; the national volunteerism rate is 26.3 percent.

Voter turnout in Indiana ranked 48th in the nation in 2010, with a rate of 39.4 percent. Only 61.2 percent of eligible Indiana citizens were registered to vote in 2010, putting the state in 43rd place for voter registration. The report also shows that Indiana ranks 48th in its analysis of citizens who discuss politics with each other.

Several organizations lent their support to the Indiana Civic Health Index, including the Indiana Bar Foundation, the Center on Congress at Indiana University, the Hoosier State Press Association, Indiana University Northwest, and the Indiana Supreme Court. The National Conference on Citizenship enlists researchers at the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, who analyze the Census Current Population Survey data to create the final report.

Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shephard and former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton are expected to make remarks about the index beginning at 5:15 p.m. Wednesday at the Indiana State Museum. Attendance is by reservation only.

See the Sept. 28 issue of Indiana Lawyer for more on this story.

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