- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Terre Haute () - Tribune-Star. September 30, 2016

Time to tune in to politics.

The political debate season arrived in full force this week with the first of three presidential and three Indiana gubernatorial debates demanding attention from voters.

The presidential debate between Republican Donald Trump and Democrat Hillary Clinton was fiery and confrontational, while the state’s gubernatorial face-off between Democrat John Gregg, Republican Eric Holcomb and Libertarian Rex Bell was tame and, in a word, uninspiring.

While Clinton and Trump have some time to assess their performances and prepare anew for their next debate on Oct. 9 in St. Louis, Missouri, Indiana’s candidates for governor have a quick turnaround. Gregg, Holcomb and Bell meet again Monday night for a live, hour-long, statewide televised debate at the University of Indianapolis.

Sponsored by the Indiana Debate Commission, the debate season in Indiana will also include a statewide televised debate Oct. 13 between U.S. Senate candidates Evan Bayh, Democrat, Todd Young, Republican, and Lucy Brenton, Libertarian, from the studios of WFYI, the public broadcasting station in Indianapolis.

Tuesday’s debate between Gregg, Holcomb and Bell didn’t produce a lot of interesting moments or intense disagreement. But that was understandable, since the audience was primarily high school students and the topic was almost exclusively education. With the race considered relatively close, we anticipate the candidates will do more to differentiate themselves from each other in the coming debates, when the audience is made up of the public and the telecast is live.

Political debates clearly matter. Four years ago, Gregg was far behind Republican Mike Pence until the final two weeks, when he closed ground quickly and made it the closest gubernatorial race in decades. Part of the reason Gregg came on strong was his own performance in his three debates. But he also benefited from Republican Senate candidate Richard Mourdock’s catastrophic performance in his own debate against Democrat Joe Donnelly. Mourdock’s explosive comments about rape and abortion turned a close Senate race into a easy victory for Donnelly, and because Pence’s ideological views were so closely aligned with Mourdock’s, Pence’s support also deteriorated.

Monday’s debate is from 7-8 p.m. and is available for telecast free of charge to any TV or radio station. Hopefully, Terre Haute’s stations, as they’ve done in the past, will take advantage of the offering and make the debate available to local viewers.

We urge potential voters to tune in. The governor’s race is important to our state’s future. Voters should do all they can to educate themselves and make an informed choice on Nov. 8.

___

South Bend Tribune. September 28, 2016

Time for Indiana to redraw the line.

Hoosier lawmakers are inching their way - literally, it seems - toward the creation of a redistricting commission that would redraw Indiana’s legislative district boundaries.

The commission is not a new idea; it’s been talked about for years. But following the latest meeting of the state’s Special Interim Study Committee on Redistricting, it seemed the idea moved past the notion that a commission is needed to the early discussions of how such a body would work.

Committee chairman Rep. Jerry Torr, R-Carmel, suggested a good place to start the discussion would be with a bill he sponsored that overwhelmingly passed the House two years ago but died in the GOP-led Senate.

Torr’s bill calls for a five-member commission with one member each appointed by Democratic and Republican leaders of the House and Senate. Those four members would then select a fifth.

Torr’s plan isn’t the only one floating around the Statehouse. Common Cause and the League of Women Voters of Indiana have come up with a plan that calls for a nine-member commission that would include three Republicans, three Democrats and three nonpartisan Hoosiers chosen by lottery following an application process overseen by legislative leaders.

The exact makeup of the commission is of less importance than the fact that it must be bipartisan and allowed to work independently of the General Assembly. Yes, the legislature must create the commission by law, but once it is the legislature must maintain hands off or it won’t work. The issue could even be brought before Indiana voters if a constitutional amendment to implement the change is required.

The next redistricting in Indiana will take place in 2021. That’s plenty of time to establish the commission, create its guidelines, set its agenda and get it up and running. But that’s only if the legislature is committed to making the process work. If not, it will all have been a waste of time.

Two years ago Indiana had the lowest voter turnout in the country for midterm elections. That must change and the first step in making sure that happens is the creation of a bipartisan, independent redistricting commission.

___

The (Bloomington) Herald-Times. September 29, 2016

United Way: ‘Single best way’ to help.

Seven-year-old Jamie is one really good reason to give to United Way of Monroe County. More than one, really.

The boy with a cute grin and sharp-looking green pullover shirt wasn’t introduced in person at the organization’s annual kick-off luncheon Wednesday. But his photo was in the brochure left at every seat, and his story and that of his family was shared by three speakers and United Way executive director Barry Lessow.

The speakers offered a lot of specific stories. The overview: Jamie is a child who has been matched with a strong role model through Big Brothers Big Sisters. It’s helped his school work and his self esteem and opened up some opportunities his family members can’t provide just now because they’re busy providing the essentials for Jamie and his little sister, Sarah, who’s 4. Survival resources must come first.

Monroe County United Ministries is helping Sarah through its preschool program and Jamie’s parents through its food pantry and self-sufficiency center. The family unit will be stronger because of the work of that agency.

You can add a third United Way agency, Area 10 Agency on Aging, which is helping Jamie’s grandparents through a range of its programming, from providing transportation to health care appointments to an activity space for mind and body at the Endwright Center.

This three-agency partnership shows how United Way supports the whole family; how it supports people in Monroe County, case by case.

Talisha Coppock, who was introduced Wednesday as this year’s campaign chairwoman, summed up the importance of support for United Way this way: “Giving to United Way is the single best way to help the most people in our community.”

United Way has a web of 26 agencies and the vision to see where help can come from, adding 10 times that many nonprofits outside of the formal United Way network.

Once known almost exclusively as a fundraising organization, United Way has evolved into a fundraiser, collaborator and community resource. It raises funds for its member agencies and other nonprofits, but it also puts its resources and expertise into finding solutions for some of the most pressing issues facing individuals in the community, including food insecurity, affordable housing, equitable educational and work opportunities and much more. It helps provide a safety net of services when people need it and the tools from which people can build or rebuild their way to self-sufficiency.

United Way broke a long-time tradition this year by not setting a campaign goal. That change sends this message: It’s not about a number to meet, it’s about meeting the needs of the largest number of people possible.

The campaign has an appropriate theme: “Empowering your community. One donation at a time.”

We encourage you to help empower members of the community, like Jamie and his family, by joining the campaign at whatever level you can. Every donation helps.

___

The (Fort Wayne) Journal Gazette. September 29, 2016

Record voter registration meaningless without follow-through at polls.

Facebook and politics are almost always a dangerous combination, but the social media site’s promotion of National Voter Registration Day offered a powerful push to prospective voters, including Hoosiers. The Indiana secretary of state’s office reported its third-highest online registration volume after Facebook on Friday used prominent posts to urge its users to register. The state saw 30,000 new registration applications by Monday.

With just less than two weeks left before the Oct. 11 deadline, Indiana has a record 4.7 million voters registered. The previous high mark was in 2008, when 4.5 million Hoosiers were registered to vote before the showdown between John McCain and Barack Obama.

Maye Johnson, Democratic representative for Allen County Voter Registration, said the office is seeing much traffic - online and on foot.

“We’re real busy,” she said. “We came in Monday morning and opened up the (electronic) hopper, and there were 1,700 registrations in there.”

That’s the Facebook effect, no doubt, given that the staff was expecting 200 to 300 registrations. Johnson said the vast majority of registrations are now done online, although some voters still choose to visit the office.

“That’s fine. Not everybody has a computer and not everybody has the skills to fill out the form online,” she said.

The Allen County office is also busy with calls from voters reading about election fraud and wanting to double-check their registration status.

“If in doubt, call and find out,” Johnson said. “We don’t want anything to hold people up at the polls on Election Day. The biggest problem is that people move and they don’t update their address.”

In truth, the biggest problem is that people don’t bother to vote. Indiana’s turnout in November 2014 - a non-presidential election year - was 30 percent, the worst in the nation. Here’s hoping the interest in registration this month translates to ballots cast Nov. 8.

Tuesday’s National Voter Registration Day was an event conceived in Oregon, a model for civic engagement. The state was the first in the nation to approve automatic voter registration by changing procedures at its Division of Motor Vehicles from an “opt in” to an “opt out.”

“(Automatic voter registration) is nearly quadrupling the rate of new registrations at the DMV, and has already increased the registration rate by nearly 10 percentage points, accounting for population growth,” writes Jonathan Brater of the Brennan Center for Justice. “Although an analysis of the full impact of automatic registration will have to wait until after the election, it is becoming more and more clear: Oregon is the Usain Bolt of voter registration.”

DMV registrations in Oregon jumped from about 4,000 a month in 2014 to more than 15,000 a month so far this year. As of July, an estimated 86 percent of Oregonians eligible to vote are registered. Compared to 2012, the state had about 364,000 more voters registered by July of this year.

The results of last spring’s Oregon primary, however, showed that registering citizens does not necessarily mean they will vote.

Unlike Indiana, where voters declare their party preference at the polls, Oregon voters must be on record as affiliated with a party to receive a primary ballot for partisan contests. Among voters automatically registered through the DMV, 4,776 chose Democratic affiliation. Another 2,671 declared Republican. Those voters participated in the primary elections, but among the voters who did not pick a party, only one in 16 bothered to cast ballots in the election’s nonpartisan contests.

The Nov. 8 election will give a much better clue to the effects of automatic voter registration, but if the first step to participation is registration, Oregon is miles ahead of Indiana and other states.

___

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide