While We Remain Uninformed….

Yesterday’s blog addressed our abysmal lack of real journalism, especially at the local level.

As an astute Facebook commenter noted, “the legislature is in session, Israel is days away from an election, ISIS continues to murder homosexuals by throwing them off roofs, a huge report about Ferguson MO using African Americans as ATMs was released, the Affordable Care Act is awaiting a verdict, the 50th Anniversary of Selma just passed, and a US Senator is about to be indicted,”–and the lead story in the Indianapolis Star was “Stink-free Super Bowl has Southsiders asking: What about us?” Other “news” addressed by the Star concerned middle school basketball game brawls, IU basketball, Reggie Wayne, an exhibit at the Historical Society, a Daylight Savings Time story, a Pacers story, and a “review” of the Mercedes C300.

And while our local media ignores the statehouse in order to focus on trivia and infotainment, state lawmakers are busy undermining our right to vote.

Senate Bill 466 would discourage students from registering to vote in the counties where they reside, study, raise children, worship and consider themselves part of the community. It also prevents disabled Hoosier voters from allowing caregivers to assist with their absentee application.

Senate Bill 535 creates an unnecessary extra step for those voting by mail by requiring a voter registration number from the state or local clerk’s office to apply for an absentee ballot. This additional burden creates an unfunded mandate for local governments that will wind up costing our state $1.3 million annually to administer.

House Bill 1008 eliminates straight ticket voting, which will lead to longer voting times for Hoosiers, fewer choices and longer lines at the polls. In 2012 and 2014, knowledgeable voters cast more than 1.5 million straight ticket ballots. Those who wanted to vote on individual races were still able to do so.

The only reason I know about these efforts is because Trent Deckard, co-director of the Indiana Election Commission, sent out an email alert. To the best of my knowledge, no “news” reporter–either newspaper or electronic–has seen fit to bring these efforts to make voting more difficult to the public’s attention.

Fans of irony might note that Indiana lawmakers are mounting this assault on the right to vote on the 50-year anniversary of the march on Selma.

Some things, evidently, never change.

26 thoughts on “While We Remain Uninformed….

  1. Shelia,

    We can debate the impact of SB 466 and 535, but to say that HB 1008 is bad is ridiculous. What’s wrong with having to go down the ballot and actually LOOK at the names of the candidates you are voting for? A person can still vote for all Ds, Rs or Ls, they just have to punch each individual race. I thought you were all about the civic engagement?

  2. But Sheila; you have overlooked that USA Today sample supplement containing Reader’s Digest versions of national and international news which Gannett sticks into the Star each day…at no additional cost to subscribers. The Saturday edition of the Star lists obituaries in the “Things To Do” section (I find this insulting, funerals are not an entertainment venue); admittedly this is an improvement over listing them in the Sports section as they did several months ago. Growing up in the era when this city had three daily newspapers which actually contained news; we are at the mercy of the Gannett national takeover of local news. They now own USA Today (I don’t read it so no idea if quality has changed) and the local Fox 59 TV channel. The switcheroo of CW and CBS TV channels on January 1st has shown no improvement on either channel, only confusion and Sunday morning CBS news on channel 4 doesn’t begin till 9:00 a.m. Most political news in the Star leans far to the right; which it has done since the Star became the “only show in town”.

    All of this points to the reason I see more and more commenters appearing on this daily blog; Sheila keeps us apprised of actual news issues and events and word-of-mouth is spreading this source of information. The bills listed today will effect all of us if passed and, who doubts they will be? I may be just a “little old fashioned girl at heart” but I do not believe voting should become a right we must fight to have easy access to or understand…or those wanting to register to vote should not have to fight to do so. Education is one major issue we need to carefully watch in this city and state. I had let my membership in the Indiana Coalition for Public Education (ICPE) lapse but renewed it last week. Not sure how much help they are providing but they are trying to protect the majority of school age children being educated in Indianapolis and provides information to it’s members. We should not have to seek information on line (tens of thousands in this city alone do not have computers); nor should we have to join organizations and pay a membership fee (no matter how small) to be given what should be public information found in our daily newspaper…and used to be.

  3. I agree with pretty much everything here, except the belittling of the near-southside air quality story. I think that kind of story is what the paper is there to investigate. Years of complaints ignored, or treated with feigned ignorance. Then the ignorance of where the smell comes from and how to make it stop magically disappears for the Super Bowl, then immediately after they’re right back to the “nothing we can do/we don’t know it’s them” stonewall. Looking out for the little guy is a good use of local journalism.

  4. I agree wholeheartedly with Scott Armstrong. The southside stink story was about the misuse of political power in favor of big money interests while the little people suffer. It is exactly the type of story our newspaper should be covering, but hasn’t. Granted, they were very late to the story, but still the Star deserves kudos. I’m baffled that Sheila doesn’t think it’s an important story. I guarantee you to those near southsiders suffering with the smell it is.

    I also don’t understand the knock on HB 1008. That’s generally seen a s a good government measure, one that the political party establishments oppose.

  5. Anybody have any ideas about the cause of the demise of journalism? Are we not willing to pay the cost of it? Do we just prioritize celebrity and entertainment news over real news?

    I would think that Internet publishing would be a great deal less expensive than paper printing and distribution.

    Where did the investigative reporters go to?

  6. The Republicans clearly don’t want people to vote and are doing everything possible to suppress voter participation.

    But, straight-ticket voting should not be part of elections, as party designation has no place on a ballot.

    If you like Smith, vote for Smith. It’s up to you to learn who you want to be elected. We don’t elect corporations to offices; we elect people. Every party is a corporation.

  7. Abdul, you duplicitous dunce, if it’s bad for an electorate to vote for their favorite party, in toto, it’s bad for an electorate to vote for their party, at all.

    If a voter should not vote for his favorite corporation in all the elections, it follows a fortiori that a voter should not vote for his favorite corporation in any election.

    Your silly Republican bill is just another Republican effort to frustrate and chill voting. If you remove party affiliation from voting, altogether, you might have some credibility.

    Abdul, you are the very face of why I’ve turned my back on that party of hate and villainy.

  8. The elimination of straight ticket voting removes an option for voters who follow politics daily and are heavily involved in party participation. I’m somewhat surprised that Republican legislative majorities want to do this in a state where straight ticket voters are also dominated by Republicans. This legislation is one of those model state legislative bills that other states are introducing.

    The legislation will definitely lengthen the time needed to vote in each individual race. Will the legislature also add funds for more voting equipment, lengthen hours for voting, finance early voting sites before election day, make absentee voting easier?

  9. If HB 1008 passes, it will not deter me from voting a straight Democratic ticket. It will be well worth the extra time it takes me to work my day down the ballot, one vote at a time, to reach the same result I previously accomplished by marking one box. Will these changes, if passed, not mean added expense of designing new ballot format and what will it cost, or will it, to change the way and time-frame votes are counted? Have Republicans thought further than the end of their nose on these changes; probably to confuse or deter voters, as to if these changes (other than SB 466) might be meaningless? Why am I asking if Republican think?

  10. Ooops; that of course should read “work my way”, not “work my day” – a possible Freudian slip.

  11. In fact, the legislature has not done any of the things Nancy has listed. Every recent effort to extend voting hours, fund better equipment, open early voting sites have been stonewalled by the Republicans. The straight ticket issue is just another effort to make the voting process more complex. By doing that, they insure that longer lines will discourage the elderly, the infirm, those on a tight work schedule or a long commute to and from work, to name a few. I challenge anyone to tell me their voter registration number without having to do some research on what it is and how to find it. There are states where all voters submit ballots by mail, so far, very successfully. Indiana is right in line with other deep red states that make voting as difficult as possible. The powerful forces behind these measures are consolidating their control over legislatures in order to continue to enrich themselves and their cronies on the taxpayers dime or to suppress regulations that would curtail their irresponsible/unlawful business practices.

    I do not have a problem with the Southside stink story, but I do find it odd and troubling that I can get more information on the state legislature’s actions from the Evansville Courier or the Fort Wayne Journal Gazette than I can from the only daily newspaper in the state capitol.

  12. I am bit surprised The Star had a negative story about the Stupor Bowl. It is interesting to see all the finger pointing by our so called Environmental Officials – Not my Job.

  13. These attacks on voting processes are part of the same strategy being used to undermine and then destroy public schools. In other words, they are an attempt to privatize voting, Make things more cumbersome, more expensive, more time consuming and more confusing and the thought is that less people will vote. Sadly, this is correct. President Obama gave a marvelous speech about voting and voting rights in Selma the other day, but it goes for naught if the process is hijacked.

    Although I agree that voters should know their candidates I strongly object to HB 1008 on the grounds that it makes voting take longer at a time when in many places the voting hours and places are insufficient already and can not handle further slow downs.

    First time voters are often either exhilarated or intimidated by their first trip to the voting booth, and each of these proposed bills are designed to intimidate rather than exhilarate. For shame!

  14. I never thought that I’d say it or believe it but I think that straight ticket voting is the only way out of the current mess. Rewarding any Republican candidate for being part of the Great Oligarchy Plot just reinforces that behavior. Only when it is thoroughly squashed will the threat be done with.

  15. A couple of clarifications: I didn’t intend to suggest that the “stink” story wasn’t news. But it was the only news in the list.

    I absolutely agree with Wray and others who recognized that the purpose of the “no straight ticket” voting law is to increase the length of time and thus the lines at voting places. (I’m sure it’s a coincidence–cough cough–that inner city voting sites where working people have less time tend to have fewer machines and longer lines.)

  16. I agree with Wray… I get political mailings from candidates who list no party affiliation on them (wolves in sheep’s clothing)… All of these individuals stand with a party… Don’t take away my right to know what your party is, and don’t hide that information on your generic mailings… That allows them to say what you to hear to get your vote! When they get elected, the only thing that matters is what the money says!!…smh

  17. I know who I am voting for and I also vote a straight ticket. The two aren’t mutually exclusive. Would any of you who aver that voting a straight ticket means no knowledge of candidates care to share your research confirming your beliefs?

  18. The support or non-support of HB 1008 certainly leaves us with some food for thought, something to chew on. What do we really value: 1) speed and efficiency in the polling place, or 2) chipping away at the remaining uninformed status of those in the polling place? Frankly, I’ve never voted a straight ticket in any election.

  19. At the Horse Racing events, one should always study the “Form”.

    The two party system usually dictates that one should ascertain
    on which side of the fence the lesser of the two evils resides, before
    casting a vote.

  20. Why do we even both with the pretense of popular elections anymore?? Just leave David and Charles to put in whomever they like and cut some of the taxpayers’ expense. …..

  21. HB 1008 is nothing more than a(nother) Republican attempt to disenfranchise Democratic voters. In 2012, straight-ticket Democrat ballots in Marion County nearly doubled Republican ballots (136,286 to 71,101). Straight ticket ballots made up around 57 percent of all Marion County ballots cast. The GOP will do anything in its power to minimize the votes of Democrats. Just as they did when they voted to eliminate the four Marion County At Large City County Council seats. Thank God we have legislators from Boon-wherever meddling in Marion County’s affairs.

  22. Just for the record, NUVO published Trent Deckard’s commentary in its entirety and is following statehouse tomfoolery. While NUVO is known for its local arts, music and entertainment coverage, our mission also includes social justice and individual freedoms.

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