We have heard it all before; the endless list of reasons and complaints of why people don’t engage politically, especially on a local level. The narrative seems to question, “Local politics don’t really matter anyways,” so “why should I care?” “why should I bother?” People are quick to exercise their democratic right every four years in national elections, but why not locally? Here in Indianapolis, turnout in the last two municipal elections has been embarrassingly low: 26% in 2007 and just under 30% in 2011.
So, what can we do? How can we make people care about local elections? In a collaborative project with NUVO and WFYI, we are seeking to answer this question. We will identify individuals who are Marion County residents, registered to vote, but only do so in national elections. Then through interviews, relationship building, and educational events we will try and persuade them to care about local issues and take action in the upcoming election. Currently, we are seeking non-voters, and we want to hear from you!
In addition, we are working hard putting together a series of forums throughout the months of September and October titled, Electing Our Future. The goal of these forums is to increase informed engagement in the civic life of our city, with more citizens voting in the upcoming November elections. The first forum will kick off September 21st, and registration will be available beginning August 17th via Eventbrite.* All events will take place from 6-8pm at the Indianapolis Public Library’s Central Location on St. Clair St. More information on the event topics and dates are outlined below:
- Mon, Sept. 21st– How does Indianapolis Work? The Indianapolis Chamber of Commerce will take responsibility for this initial presentation. Would include brief description of where we are in the federal/state/local scheme of things; discussion of home rule/state authority; outline of Mayor, Council, Departments, Municipal Corporations and what each does. How does our governing structure/Unigov differ from that of other cities? How do we finance our city?
- Tues, Oct. 6th– What are the issues we face? The Center for Civic Literacy will be the lead partner for this forum. How does the City deal with change? What do citizens need to know to make informed decisions on quality of life issues: environmental, public health, education, transportation, arts and culture, civic life. How do we identify and allocate dwindling resources—with resources broadly defined to include civic, corporate and religious organizations and nonprofits, sources of expertise, & civic energy. Why is low civic knowledge a barrier to a more robust civic life?
- Tues, Oct. 20th– What do we want Indianapolis to look like 5, 10, 15 years from now? If we want a city that is healthy, wealthy & wise, how do we get there? The Greater Indianapolis Progress Committee will share insights from Indy 2020 project.
*Please note, each forum has its own Eventbrite page so individual registration is required.