Polls in Indiana are open on November 3, 2020, Election Day, from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. To find Election Day polling sites in your area, visit indianavoters.org.
As soon as early voting opened in Marion County, a line began to snake around the City-County Building in downtown Indianapolis. Despite having more than 650,000 registered voters, the CCB was the only early voting location in Marion County until October 24.
With just one location open, long lines became the standard, with some voters waiting up to seven hours to cast their ballots. Like so many others, Cynthia Morraz was watching the frustration grow on social media. Yet she saw something else in those long lines: a demand for early voting that could help secure future opportunities for all voters.
“In Marion County, early voting is new,” she explains. “Satellite locations were just introduced in our local elections in 2018. By participating in the early voting process and waiting in long lines, we are demonstrating the need for additional early voting sites in all elections.”
Morraz is an MPA graduate student at O’Neill, focusing on Urban and Regional Governance. She is committed to civic engagement and equal access to voting. When she saw what was going on, she wanted to find a way to help.
“I knew Indianapolis voters were going to continue to wait in line as we got closer to Election Day and I wanted to encourage every single one of them,” she says.
She began recruiting fellow students and staff to volunteer for a project. On October 22, Morraz and the team of volunteers headed to the CCB. They spent seven hours handing out food, water, and even stickers to those in line—and they left empty-handed. They had handed out food to more than 600 people that day. For Morraz, it was a simple way that she could help her community and encourage civic engagement.
“I believe our voices matter and voting is one of the many ways we can show up and demand action,” she says. “In the past, many states have used policies to oppress Black, Latinx, and immigrant communities from voting early. Early voting can allow oppressed communities the opportunity to participate in our voting process.”
Morraz’s passion to ensure everyone has an equal voice and an opportunity to vote is personal.
“As a first-generation Latina, I value voting—it’s one of the many ways I can vote for candidates that advocate for my community and the issues I support,” she explains.
Morraz was able to take on her project thanks to the support from a Jag Social Action Grant from IUPUI’s Center for Service and Learning. The grant is available to current IUPUI students and offers financial support up to $1,500 for projects that promote civic engagement and positive social action.
“If a student is passionate about a topic, they should apply, especially if they want to engage the community or share knowledge,” Morraz says. “And knowledge is power!”
To learn more about the Jag Social Action Grant and how to apply, visit CSL’s website at this link.