TERRE HAUTE —
The electoral karma seemed, well, unfair.
Since my first opportunity a few decades ago, I’ve done my best to vote every time. Whether at the local firehouse or schoolhouse, whether our kids were little and wandering around the polling place, whether the weather was rainy or clear, I filled in those circles on the ballots.
It just feels so American, so free. Nobody should miss such an experience.
In 2008, the urge to vote was stronger than ever for millions of Americans. Along with older folks, even young people — the 18- to 24-year-olds — were engaged in the process, listening to speeches, registering voters and actively participating. The atmosphere was intense yet inspiring. The presidential portion of the campaign took me to Indianapolis to chronicle an appearance by Republican nominee John McCain, to Terre Haute visits by Democratic candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton at high schools, the Saratoga, and the 4-H Building at the Wabash Valley Fairgrounds.
I even sat in another restaurant, waiting for Bill Clinton to drop in during a trip to the Wabash Valley on his wife’s behalf. He never arrived at that anticipated appointment. The former president was forced to miss a meet-and-greet breakfast to instead survey damage from an overnight fire at Hillary’s local campaign headquarters.
After a year of election drama, voting day finally neared. Yet, as luck would have it, a brief flu-like ailment landed me in the hospital — for the first time since a high school football injury — on the Sunday before the historic election. Till then, I could count on one hand the number of sick days I’d taken from work, dating back to the 1980s. Of all the times to be out of action … go figure.
So, instead of writing newspaper pieces about the events, I read the newspaper accounts from a hospital bed, and watched TV coverage of “Decision 2008” wire-to-wire for five days.
But I wasn’t completely on the sidelines. I voted.
The Vigo County Confined Voters Board sent two members — one Republican, one Democrat — to the hospital and allowed me to cast my ballot.
That moment came to mind at the end of Monday’s third and final presidential debate, when moderator Bob Schieffer signed off with a poignant reminder to viewers. Quoting his own mother, Schieffer — one of the best television news people on the planet — urged Americans to “go vote. It makes you feel big and strong.”
He’s right. Four years ago, the privilege to join 131,393,990 fellow Americans participating in the process made me feel stronger than could any IV.
This year, Indiana can feel bigger and stronger than in recent elections. A report last year, overseen by former Indiana congressman Lee Hamilton and retired Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall Shepard, revealed that the state has room for improvement, in terms of voter involvement. The study, labeled the Indiana Civic Health Index, revealed some positive aspects of Hoosiers.
The state ranked 17th nationally in the percentage of families eating meals together on a regular basis, a practice that, according to the report, boosts community involvement. Indiana rated No. 21 in membership in service clubs, including school and faith-based groups.
But on the opposite end, the Hoosier state ranked 48th in voter turnout. In the 2010 election, just 39.4 percent of eligible voters went to the polls. That figure fell well below the national rate of 45.5 percent. Indiana stood 43rd out of 50 states in the proportion of residents registered to vote, with only 61.2 percent. Part of the problem is Indiana’s voting obstacles — the deadline to register 29 days before Election Day (right about the time people start thinking seriously about the campaign), the early poll-closing time of 6 p.m., and the unnecessary voter photo ID law. Still, two years ago, only 39.4 of those eligible voted.
Opportunities still exist, even if Election Day looks too busy for voting.
Early voting continues in Vigo County from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday, through Nov. 3 on the first floor of the Vigo County Courthouse. It resumes on Monday, Nov. 5, from 8 a.m. until noon. You must be registered, and you’ll need a state or federally issued photo ID. So far, 1,830 people have taken advantage of early voting locally, the Vigo County Clerk’s office reported. If you don’t vote early, the polls are open on Election Day — Tuesday, Nov. 6 — from 6 a.m. till 6 p.m.
Feel big and strong. Vote.
Mark Bennett can be reached at 812-231-4377 or email@example.com.
TERRE HAUTE —
Former Sen. Richard Lugar receives Chapman S. Root award.
Former U.S. Sen. Richard Lugar, recently praised by President Barack Obama for making the world a safer place, visited Terre Haute Thursday to receive the Chapman S. Root award.
Wabash Valley prepares for today’s snow and severe drop in temperatures
The weather outside was more frightful Thursday night than it was expected to be this morning, as an icy mixture of precipitation played out. But snowfall is expected to continue today to accumulate up to seven inches in the Terre Haute area, according to the National Weather Service in Indianapolis.
Lilly grants $5M to 3 Vigo colleges
Three Terre Haute colleges will benefit from a combined $5 million in Lilly Endowment grants intended to help students find “meaningful” employment after graduation.
Otter Creek Twp. moves forward on bond issue
Otter Creek Township officials Thursday unanimously voted to approve a lease agreement that moves the process forward on a proposed $1.8 million bond issue to construct a new seven-bay firehouse, which will replace a current building that sits in a flood zone in North Terre Haute.
Mayor asks for $5 million ‘tax anticipation’ loan
Mayor Duke Bennett asked the Terre Haute City Council Thursday night to approve a “tax anticipation” loan of up to $5 million that must be repaid in up to three years.
39 Indiana schools get Lilly grants
Indiana’s 39 accredited colleges and universities will receive a significant boost in improving opportunities for their college graduates to find meaningful in-state employment as a result of $62.7 million in grants from Lilly Endowment Inc., the organization said in press release on Thursday.
Special admission, activities tonight at Children’s Museum
The Terre Haute Children’s Museum is joining in today’s Miracle on 7th Street with discounted admission, an appearance by a live reindeer, holiday-themed stories and activities, music provided by the ISU Holiday Choir and an opportunity to write a letter to Santa.
United Day for United Way of Wabash Valley to be Jan. 17
United Way of the Wabash Valley is scheduled to make its final push to hit the $1.85 million campaign goal with its annual United Day for United Way on Jan. 17.
Poll of Hoosiers finds growing support for legalizing pot, opposition to marriage amendment
Legislators may balk at the idea of easing the penalties for marijuana, but a new poll shows a majority of Hoosiers support legalizing the drug and taxing it like alcohol and tobacco.
The same poll finds that a strong majority of Hoosiers oppose amending the state constitution to ban same-sex marriages and civil unions.
INDOT to have I-70 lane restrictions in western Indiana
Construction crews are scheduled to finish several small road repair items on Interstate 70 now through Dec. 14.
Ivy Tech announces academic restructuring
Ivy Tech Community College will restructure its academic divisions to better align programs with potential career and transfer tracks for students and aid in retaining students, the school said Thursday in a press release.
Pence unveils legislative agenda
Gov. Mike Pence is calling on the Indiana General Assembly to increase spending on education, roads and job development while ending a $1 billion-a-year tax on business that funds local governments, schools and libraries.
Indy developer interested in vacant ISU towers
The walls of Indiana State University’s Statesman Towers won’t be tumbling down anytime soon, despite a planned demolition that is now on hold.
Terre Haute gives out art grants
The City of Terre Haute backed its support of local arts organizations with funding on Wednesday, as grants totaling $21,500 were presented to seven nonprofit organizations.
The extra step: Feed company gets special certification
Graham Feed Co. in Terre Haute has attained a Safe Feed/Safe Food Certification from the American Feed Industry Association.
Otter Creek Twp. considering $1.5M bond
Otter Creek Township officials will conduct a public hearing today on a proposed $1.5 million bond issue to construct a new seven-bay firehouse to replace a current building in North Terre Haute that sits in a flood zone.
MARK BENNETT: Walk of Fame inductee would stand tall in any era
Unlike most of us, Amory Kinney didn’t let the wall around his comfort zone grow taller as time passed.
Networking at Schmooza Palooza event
The Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce hosted its Schmooza Palooza, an annual Evening Networking Expo, on Wednesday at The Landing in Terre Haute. The event is part of Business After Hours and part Business Networking Expo.
Parks Dept. warns of heavy traffic
The Terre Haute Parks and Recreation Department is reminding residents of increased traffic during December in the area of Deming Park on the city’s east side.
City Council considering synthetic drug ordinance
The Terre Haute City Council will be looking tonight at a proposal designed to curb synthetic drug sales and access for minors to tobacco and drug paraphernalia.
Two charges with child neglect released from jail
Two individuals arrested recently for child neglect have been released from the Vigo County Jail and ordered to have no contact with their children.
Police seek help in solving homicide as anniversary approaches
Tips in an unsolved homicide are still being sought, as the one-year anniversary approaches in the death of a Sullivan County man.
Area Plan proposes change to city building code
The Vigo County Area Plan Commission on Wednesday voted to recommend a proposed amendment to the Terre Haute City Code to clarify requirements for new buildings that would be built in downtown Terre Haute in the future.
Indiana mayors will fight to keep business tax
Mayors from across Indiana are gearing up for a fight to preserve a state business tax that produces nearly $1 billion in annual revenue for local governments, libraries and schools.
Republican leaders in the Statehouse say getting rid of the business personal property tax would lure manufacturers and other big job-creators to the state. But a chorus of mayors say the loss of revenue would hit communities already struggling with the impact of state-imposed property tax caps.
White wonder: Snow ‘just adds to atmosphere’ of Miracle on 7th Street
Snow showers are expected to blanket downtown Terre Haute on Friday – just in time for the holiday wonder of Miracle on 7th Street.
SMWC names sports complex after late Sister
The new Saint Mary-of-the-Woods College Sports and Recreation Center will be named after the late Sister Jeanne Knoerle, the college’s 12th president.
Two Sullivan County school districts to get $1 million
Northeast and Southwest Sullivan school districts each will receive more than $1 million as part of a settlement in a federal securities fraud lawsuit.
State agency opposes limited unemployment benefits plan
A coalition of business and labor groups want Indiana legislators to expand unemployment benefits to partially furloughed workers, but the proposal faces opposition from the state agency that would implement it.
Buskirk pleads guilty for role in teen’s murder
A Greene County man appeared in court Tuesday morning to admit his involvement in the murder of a Linton teenager last summer.
Driver injured after swerving to avoid deer
A Jasonville man was injured in an early Tuesday crash south of Riley.
- More News Headlines
- Former Sen. Richard Lugar receives Chapman S. Root award.