Indiana ranks among the worst states in the country for voter turnout. And improving that is the goal of a new, nonpartisan organization: HOPE – Hoosiers Organized, People Energized.
HOPE is made up principally of long-time Democratic political operatives, raising questions about how nonpartisan it is. But founding board member Arielle Brandy has done voter outreach for a long time and said she knows how to speak to Republicans and those who don’t identify with a party at all.
“Especially in some of these communities where they have not been talked to about voter registration and the importance of it … and if we can reach them – especially in these marginalized communities – I think it’s very, very important for us and will help increase turnout,” Brandy said.
Brandy said restoring trust in the voting process is a key component of HOPE's work.
"I feel like there are so many pieces of misinformation out there when it comes to the voting process, not only just in our state but just in general," Brandy said. "Every state in the United States has a different way in which they register their voters ... and so just being able to have the basic knowledge of what you can and can't do in the state of Indiana is something that is important to us."
Led by Brandon Evans, HOPE aims to get 100,000 Hoosiers registered to vote over the next year.
“We picked a big goal on purpose to really, really force ourselves to put in the hard work, to make us successful as an organization and make an impact in our state,” Evans said.
Evans also emphasized the importance of getting people to check their existing registrations, which they can do on HOPE's website.
"We want to make that streamlined and as easy as possible for people," Evans said. "In the future, we'll be doing lots of partnerships with different organizations and businesses and community groups to make that happen, up and down the state."
Evans said the group is funded initially through grassroots donations. But he said, as a non-profit, HOPE will also look for strategic partnerships and grant opportunities.
"We are trying to diversify that pool of funds as much as possible – additionally, as a way to engage other people who feel like their voices or their contributions haven't been heard before," Evans said.
HOPE offers its streamlined voter registration assistance through a partnership with Vote.org, a national get-out-the-vote technology platform.