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Index shows poor voter engagement

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Indiana Lawyer Rehearing

On Sept. 14, results of the inaugural Civic Health Index were released to the public. The data shows that while Indiana is on-par with national standards in volunteerism, the state’s 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.

U.S. Census Data – which provide the foundation for the report – show a connection between Indiana citizens who access news regularly and their level of community involvement. About 7-in-10 Indiana residents who access news on a daily basis via the newspaper, radio, television, or Internet sources reported doing a favor for a neighbor at least once per month. Of people who do not read a newspaper or listen to radio news daily, 5-in-10 reported doing a favor for a neighbor at least once a month.

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.

On April 19, former U.S. Rep. Lee Hamilton announced the Civic Health Index project, just days after Congress passed a budget that cut $35 million for civic education. In April, Hamilton said: “Those of us interested in this project are concerned … because there is an awful lot of evidence that suggests an awful lot of Americans are less and less interested in civics, and if that’s the case, the entire democracy is in jeopardy.”

Since 2006, the NCoC has conducted a yearly national Civic Health Index. Comparing results of the indexes with research studies conducted in the 1970s and thereafter, the NCoC reports that most forms of civic engagement measured in the index – like voter turnout and volunteerism – have fallen over the past three decades. In 2008, the NCoC began offering state-level indexes. Ohio, California, and Florida were the first states to receive such a report, as they have every year since.

Rehearing "Effort seeks to revive citizens' civic interest" IL April 27-May 10, 2011
 

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  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

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