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The Journal Gazette

Friday, September 07, 2018 1:00 am

Push on to get students to polls

EACS to host Student Voter Registration Day

ASHLEY SLOBODA | The Journal Gazette

As of lunchtime Thursday, Indiana had 4,481,029 registered voters – a number East Allen County Schools likely will increase today.

The district has partnered with the Fort Wayne Area League of Women Voters to host its first Student Voter Registration Day.

The event – which will be held at every East Allen high school around lunchtime today – should “make a powerful statement,” district spokeswoman Tamyra Kelly said.

Students as young as 17 may register if they will turn 18 on or before the Nov. 6 general election.

The deadline to register online for the upcoming election is 11:59 p.m. Oct. 9.

Kelly appreciates having a nonpartisan organization assist with this effort.

Nancy McCammon-Hansen, convener for the League, described the partnership with East Allen, along with some area colleges, as wonderful.

The League has learned it's important to make special outreach efforts to people who will be 18 by election day, encouraging them to register to vote, learn about the issues and go to the polls, she said.

“Young people can and should be looking at the future of our country because it is their future also,” McCammon-Hansen said in an email.

Kelly agreed. She wants students to know “this is your opportunity to make a difference.”

Voting at a young age has other benefits, said Sarah Kindinger, a League volunteer who coordinated the East Allen event.

“It is important for young voters to establish good voting habits and the earlier they understand their responsibility and participate in the process the more likely they will vote in all future elections,” Kindinger said by email.

Overall, McCammon-Hansen said, participation in Indiana elections isn't what it could be.

Statewide, turnout for the spring primary was 20 percent; the Allen County turnout was 15 percent.

Turnout for the 2014 midterm race was 30 percent statewide and 29 percent in Allen County, according to the state.

It's OK if people only vote for races or referendums they researched, Kindinger said.

“This voting cycle in (northeast) Indiana has a lot on the ballot,” she said.

East Allen should know by the end of today how many students registered to vote, Kelly said.

If the event is successful, she said, the district definitely will do it again.