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Op-ed: I’m too young to vote, but you should. Here’s how.

Grayson Joslin  |  Indianapolis Starplay

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The many ways you can vote in Indiana

There are many ways you can vote in Indiana, including voting on Election Day or voting early by mail or by in-person absentee voting. Here is what you need to know.

A question to the people of Indiana, from a high school senior who won’t be 18 before Nov. 3: Will you be voting in the fast-approaching election?

I ask because history suggests you might not, even though there are signs that more of you will.

In 2016, almost 137 million people nationwide cast a ballot for president, an 8 million increase from 2012. That may sound like a good number, but it represents only about 55% of the nation’s eligible voters.

That turnout ranks the U.S. 26th among 32 of the world’s most developed democracies, according to the Pew Research Center.

Here’s how: The last day to register to vote in Indiana is Oct. 5.

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And in a subpar country, Indiana was a below-average state. The 2019 Indiana Civic Health Index found that our state ranked 41st in voter turnout.

There are plenty of reasons to vote this year. For one, we have the presidential election between Republican incumbent Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden, a hotly contested race for governor between the incumbent Republican Eric Holcomb, Democrat Dr. Woody Myers and Libertarian Donald Rainwater, as well as a slew of federal and state legislative races.

Don’t forget that last group. They are the ones who actually pass laws.

The election is also coming at an important moment. Americans are divided over protests about racial justice and policing in cities across the country. The U.S. Supreme Court vacancy caused by the recent death of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has sparked conversation about the selection of a successor who could shape the court for decades to come.

And then, of course, there’s the COVID-19 pandemic, which has killed over 200,000 Americans and sent the U.S. economy into recession even as it prompts concerns about the safety of voting.

Yet despite those concerns, voter turnout could be on the rise.

A survey by the Pew Research Center released last month showed that 83% of voters said it really matters who wins this election, a record high. That same survey also shows that about 80% of voters from both major parties thought “a lot” about the election.

It also showed, however, that roughly half expect to have trouble voting, a point that underscores concerns about the coronavirus.

If you feel you can take adequate precautions against the virus and if the issues before our state and country matter enough to get you to vote, the next thing you need to do is make sure you’re registered. You can do this online or by mail by Oct. 5. Details are at the state’s voting portal, www.indianavoters.com.

Then, you’ll have to decide how you’ll vote.

There is Election Day, itself: Nov. 3.

Indiana also allows voters to cast ballots by mail under certain circumstances, though concern about catching the coronavirus isn’t one of them. The state voting portal has a list of acceptable reasons and deadlines.

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Another option for all registered voters is in-person early voting, which runs Oct. 6 through Nov. 2. Advantages to voting early in person include reducing the amount of people in line waiting to vote on Election Day and lessening the stress on poll workers. You can find your location and times at the state’s voting portal.

The number of federal and state offices up for election this year, combined with the number of important issues at stake underline another argument for voting. It’s a civic duty and constitutional right.

By casting your ballot, you are taking part in democracy. You are ensuring that your voice will be heard on the issues that you care about the most. We, as citizens, must vote to protect our rights every single election.

The more Hoosiers make their voices heard at the local, state and national levels of government, the likelier we are to have a working and effective democracy.

Grayson Joslin is a senior at New Castle High School in New Castle, Indiana.

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