Jalyn Radziminski was a middle-distance runner in high school, competing in races of 800 meters and longer.
It was good practice for what came later – founding a nonprofit organization amid a global pandemic and keeping it going while COVID-19 rages on.
“It takes a lot of discipline and endurance,” said Radziminski, 25, referring to running. “Riding out the challenges and showing up every day – the discipline and pacing myself has trained me.”
She is president of Count US IN, an nonpartisan organization created to “uplift voices in Indiana locally as well as highlight Indiana's relevance in the national political conversations,” according to its website. A top goal of Count US IN is to increase diversity among voters in the November election.
Radziminski and others had planned to do that by meeting with stakeholders and holding in-person educational events focused on voting, but the new coronavirus stalled those efforts.
She sought nonprofit status from the state in January and received it in February, just as COVID-19 began to take hold in the U.S.
“We had to cancel everything,” Radziminski said Monday.
They instead shifted gears and began holding meetings online. One that focuses on absentee voting is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. today and can be accessed through the Indianapolis Public Library's website, indypl.org.
Physically distanced door-to-door educational efforts and registration events will begin this month in Fort Wayne, Radziminski said.
A 2019 study from the Pew Research Center suggests voter turnout is poised to rise among many racial and ethnic groups.
Researchers looked at midterm elections in 2018, finding “the nation's voting population ... was the most racially and ethnically diverse ever for a midterm election.” Blacks, Hispanics and Asians made up 25% of voters, up from 22% four years earlier, according to the report.
Turnout among Blacks increased nearly 11%, compared to figures from 2014, the study says.
Large numbers of Americans are set to vote in November, and ballot counters in Allen County expect to be busy. Beth Dlug, the county's director of elections, said Friday that more than 13,000 local voters have so far requested absentee ballots.
“(That) compares to about 1,100 at this time in 2016,” she said in an email.
Radziminski said it is important to focus on racially and ethnically diverse voters because they often are left on the sidelines of elections because of things such as difficulty getting state-issued identification necessary to cast ballots.
“It's a domestic right that we fight for,” she said.
More information about Count US IN can be found at countusindiana.org.