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Civic Health Index Shows Indiana Needs Improvement

Brandon Smith/IPB News

Indiana’s civic health leaves a lot of room for improvement – that’s the conclusion from the fourth edition of the Civic Health Index, unveiled Monday.

The Civic Health Index uses data from the U.S. Census Bureau and voter registration information to measure how Hoosiers engage in their communities. And former Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard says some measures are encouraging: Indiana ranks better than most states for volunteering, political donations and social media discussion of political and social issues.

“And the notion that we might be able to move people’s participation by ramping up various forms of civic education – including the use of the social media to do that – is very promising,” Shepard says.

And participation does need improvement – Indiana consistently ranks in the bottom 10 states for voter registration and turnout.

Indiana Bar Foundation executive director Chuck Dunlap says that’s why it’s forming a civic education task force.

“To be able to go and have conversations around the state with members of that task force to hear from people, to look at things that are working around the state,” Dunlap says.

Dunlap says the task force will be formed early next year and plans to present recommendations to the General Assembly before the 2021 session.