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A new group, Indiana Citizen, hopes to move the state from the bottom 10 to the top 10 in turnout. Above, the Butler University mascot at a polling place on campus last year.

New nonpartisan Indiana group aims to boost paltry voter turnout

Add Indiana to the states with nonprofit, nonpartisan organizations trying to improve the functioning of democracy.

Indiana Citizen, which debuted last month, is the brainchild of longtime Democratic activists Bill and Ann Moreau.

Earlier in his career, Bill Moreau worked for Birch Bayh, a prominent senator from Indiana in the 1960s and 1970s. Then he served in various capacities, including chief of staff, when Bayh's son Evan was Indiana's secretary of state and then governor.

He is retiring at the end of the year as a partner in the law firm Barnes & Thornburg to focus full time on promoting the work of Indiana Citizen, which is operated by the nonpartisan, nonprofit Indiana Citizen Education Foundation Inc.

The initial goal of the group is to improve Indiana's low standing among the states when comparing voter turnout. The state ranked 43rd in voter participation in last year's election, the Census Bureau estimates, a tiny uptick after coming in 47th in the previous midterm, in 2014. In the 2016 presidential election the state ranked 41st, a drop of three places from the previous presidential year.

The ambitious goal of Indiana Citizen is to move the state into the top 10 for turnout next November.

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Students in Wisconsin, like many at this Badgers football game, face an unconstitutional burden at the polls according to a new lawsuit.

Young Wisconsinites denied their voting rights, latest suit contends

Wisconsin's rules limiting student IDs at the polls are so strict they violate the constitutional right of young people to participate in democracy, a progressive group alleges in the latest lawsuit claiming voting rights violations in 2020 battleground states.

The suit, filed this week, asks the federal courts to block enforcement of the rules during the 2020 election, when the state's 10 electoral votes will be hotly contested. Last time, Donald Trump carried Wisconsin by less than 1 percentage point, breaking a seven-election winning streak for the Democratic nominees.

And suppression of the youth vote was a big reason why, the lawsuit alleges. It notes that while college-age turnout increased nationwide by at least 3 percent between 2012 and 2016, that same figure across Wisconsin declined at least 5 percent and in some parts of the state more than 11 percent.

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As Americans watch the Brexit turmoil, they should remember how it began as the result of a ballot initiative, the author notes.

More ballot initiatives won’t make Americans feel better about politics

On Friday we will publish a countervailing view: "Ballot initiatives are voters' best tactic, so use them."

Dyck is an associate professor of Political Science and director of the Center for Public Opinion at the University of Massachusetts, Lowell. Lascher is professor and chairman at the Department of Public Policy and Administration at California State University, Sacramento.

As Americans watch the Brexit-related political turmoil in the United Kingdom, it is important to remember that the chaos there began in a form of direct democracy. When U.K. voters set in motion their exit from the European Union, they did so by voting directly on the so-called "Brexit" initiative.

Normally, such major policy would have been initiated, deliberated and voted on by their elected officials in Parliament.

The Brexit mess is an example of the disruptive potential of direct democracy, a practice that Americans have long believed leads to a healthier democratic society.

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Drake University's Camryn Kubicki was among the 40 percent of college students who voted in 2018.

College students doubled their turnout for a midterm in '18

College students turned out at the polls in droves for the 2018 election, more than doubling their voting rate from the midterm contest four years prior.

The share of collegiate Americans who cast ballots in last year's midterm was 40.3 percent, a surge of 21 percentage points from 2014, researchers at Tufts University reported Thursday.

The report provides more good news for those worried the civic engagement of younger people has atrophied, and that those with the most schooling are not as politically active as they once were. (The study is also heartening for Democrats, because the young and well-educated are key components of their base.)

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