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true true true true

IU Students Urge Young Voters To Cast Ballots Before Election Day

Voters line up on first day of early voting

Long lines formed outside Bloomington's election headquarters on the first day of early voting. (George Hale, WFIU/WTIU News)

Lines of voters stretched for blocks Tuesday outside the Monroe County election headquarters, as early voting started in Indiana amid fears the coronavirus could affect the election.

Some voters waited more than an hour to get inside and cast their ballots.

Outside, a representative of Indiana University’s student government was calling on young people to make their voices heard — in spite of the challenges amid the pandemic.

“It is easy to feel distressed and saddened by the news and to want to just turn it off and turn away from these problems,” the student, Morgan Carter, told reporters.

“But the IU student government urges you to face these problems head on and confront these pressing and unprecedented issues of our times.”

Ruby Flores Camacho said she was voting “not only for myself. I’m voting for my parents who are undocumented. For my friends who have DACA.

“And for much more people... voting matters. It doesn’t matter just for the national election, but for our state elections and for our local communities.”

READ MORE: Indiana Worst In Nation For Decline In Young Voter Registration

Students were at the early voting site as part of Indiana University's Political and Civic Engagement program, or PACE, that focuses on moving students “from theory to practice.”

Only about half of 18- and 19-year-olds are registered to vote in Indiana.

That rate is the worst in the nation. 

Some experts believe COVID-19-related challenges are to blame. Many young voters register to vote at their high schools. But fewer students are attending classes in person due to the virus.

And that could have a long-term impact on young people’s likelihood to vote in the future because research shows people who begin voting at age 18 or 19 are more likely to continue to vote in later adulthood. 

“It’s important to get out on the first day to vote early, and vote safely, to make sure your vote is counted,” said Mark Fraley, associate director of PACE. 

Safety probably explained why it took so long to vote. Inside the election center, workers were letting people in one at a time — checking for masks and keeping people separated.

Poll workers behind plexiglass gave voters a pen to sign in — and to vote. They instructed voters to use the same pen throughout the process, rather than return them like in previous years.

Other workers guided voters to tables for them to fill out ballots. The tables were marked with Xs to keep people from standing too close to one another.

“I just love the intergenerational spirit that’s happening,” said PACE director Lisa-Marie Napoli, pointing toward the line of waiting voters. 

”That line is going pretty far around the corner there. And that’s really amazing on the first day of early voting. In 2016, we were here. And we didn’t quite see that on the first day.”

For the latest news and resources about COVID-19, bookmark our Coronavirus In Indiana page here

Want to contact your legislators about an issue that matters to you? Find out how to contact your senators and member of Congress here.

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