Leading up to United States Midterm Election Day Nov. 8, voter registration and turnout in Delaware County has never been lower. In fact, for the 2020 General Election, Delaware County was reportedly tied for the lowest voter turnout in the state of Indiana at 58 percent, despite having 83,661 people registered, according to data sent by the League of Women Voters of Indiana.
Though much of Delaware County’s population consists of Ball State University students in Muncie, the county also had one of the lowest percentages of absentee voters in the state at 42 percent, according to data sent by the League of Women Voters of Indiana. For many Ball State students, if they were to vote, it would need to be via absentee ballot.
The application deadline for absentee voters is Oct. 27 at 11:59 p.m.
Linda Hanson, co-president of the League of Women Voters of Indiana, believes an education or awareness about voting has not been properly offered to younger generations. Hanson said this is why her organization puts an emphasis on encouraging people to vote.
“If we vote, we have a voice. If not, we don't,” Hanson said via email. “The lack of civic education for at least the last 20 years … is a part of the problem for young people's lack of awareness, but a lack of modeling and the lack of public attention to what local and state boards, councils and legislatures do are other factors.”
Additionally, Hanson said findings from data about the 2016 United States Presidential Election from the Pew Research Center encouraged the League of Women Voters of Indiana to continue to focus on raising awareness for voter registration and turnout.
“The data also makes another point very clear: those who didn’t vote are as responsible for the outcome of the  election as those who did,” Hanson said via email. “About 30 percent of Americans were eligible to vote but decided not to, a higher percentage than the portion of the country who voted for either Trump or his Democratic opponent, Hillary Clinton.”
The League of Women Voters of Indiana are partnering with multiple organizations statewide, such as Common Cause, and even organizations specifically in Muncie, such as Muncie Resists and the Muncie YMCA, to encourage voter participation. Hanson said uncontested races are another reason for low voter turnout.
“If there is no competition, voters feel they have no voice, so [they] don't vote,” Hanson said via email. “The offices in midterm elections and municipal elections often have [a] greater impact on our lives than federal elections!”