Electric cooperative consumer-owners are no strangers to the democratic process. In fact, civic participation is baked into the cooperative experience because the consumer-owners of the cooperative directly elect its leadership every year at the annual meeting.
But this spring is different because the power of consumer-owner voter participation extends beyond their local cooperatives. Not only do Hoosiers get to decide who will lead the state by selecting gubernatorial candidates, they get to help determine what direction the country will move by selecting presidential candidates. (Not to mention the opportunity to select state and federal legislators to deliberate and advance the policy goals that help our cooperatives support the communities they serve.) And as recent elections have shown, the choices made by an engaged, voting consumer-owner can shape the outcomes of elections up and down the ballot.
The first step to making sure your voice is heard is making sure you have the opportunity to use it. In Indiana, voter registration for the May 5 primary closes Monday, April 6, 2020. Visit IndianaVoters.in.gov to register to vote or make sure your current voter registration is up to date. You can also find your nearest polling site and early voting locations, as well as learn who is on your ballot.
All this planning is important to ensure Hoosier electric cooperative consumer-owners have the opportunity to make their voices heard. In the 2018 primary elections, only 20% of registered voters in Indiana cast their ballots. In cooperative communities across the state, voter turnout dipped as low as 10% of registered voters in that area. Co-ops succeed when the communities they serve are engaged in the civic process, and this upcoming election will be no different.
The May 2020 primary will be a critically important election; Hoosiers will select one of the two major party presidential candidates, as well as decide from those candidates seeking to fill two of Indiana’s nine Congressional open seats. State legislators who support Indiana’s electric cooperatives will face their first steps toward continuing their public service. And, by registering to vote and exercising their civic responsibility to make their voices heard, electric cooperative consumer-owners from across Indiana can emphasize the importance of supporting the policies and initiatives that not only allow co-ops to provide safe, reliable and affordable energy, but create the opportunities for the communities cooperatives serve to grow and thrive.
To learn more about the issues co-op consumer-owners can address at the ballot box and how to register to vote, visit action.IndianaEC.org.
Tuesday Voting: A Rural-Rooted Practice?
On May 5, 2020, thousands of Hoosiers across the state will head to their polling sites to cast the first votes in the 2020 election cycle. For some voters, it will be their first opportunity to vote; for others, it joins a long list of other votes cast in their lives. The one constant: the vote always happens on a Tuesday.
Why Tuesday? The answer rests on a rationale to which many electric cooperative consumer-owners can relate. In the early days of the country’s history, votes could only be cast in a county seat (or capitol) and the journey could take a day or more. Travel was discouraged for those observing Sunday as a day of rest, so most voters — particularly those coming from rural areas — preferred either Tuesday or Wednesday. Because many farmers took their wares to market on Wednesday, that left Tuesday as the most viable day to vote.
Times have changed, and many Americans would like to see voting become a national holiday, or at least fall on a weekend. But as we get ready for the primary and registered to vote, remember America’s voting history has been shaped with rural communities in mind.
Categories: Indiana Cooperatives in the News