Lafayette billboard bringing awareness to Indiana voter rights

A new voter rights awareness billboard in Lafayette is targeting a specific group of voters who may not know their rights.

Posted: Sep 14, 2020 8:45 PM
Updated: Sep 15, 2020 8:26 AM

LAFAYETTE, Ind. (WLFI) -- We're less than a month away from Indiana's voter registration deadline. Now community activists are doing everything they can do get eligible voters registered.

Their latest effort is a billboard located at the intersection of 9th and Duncan Rd. The billboard lays out voter rights specifically for people who may have found themselves in the criminal justice system. That's why it's not a coincidence it's located just down the street from the Tippecanoe County Jail.

"We just want people to know if you can vote we want to help you register to vote so that you will vote," said Melissa Gruver, chapter organizing director for the Younger Women's Task Force of Greater Lafayette.

Indiana is one of 16 states that allow people to vote even if they're awaiting trial, on probation or parole, in-home detention or have ever been incarcerated. Gruver who helped organize a voter right's demonstration under the billboard Monday said the goal is to help clear up misconceptions surrounding voting rights for local people living with criminal records.

"As we go out to register voters, we run into at least three to five people each time that think that they are not able to register and vote because of prior incarceration," said Gruver.

Members of The Working Hoosiers Vote Coalition, which includes the YWTF, Greater Lafayette Immigrant Allies, Showing Up for Racial Justice of Greater Lafayette, and Greater Lafayette Indivisible, teamed up with the ACLU of Indiana and the local NAACP chapters to help fund this billboard. It's intentionally located down the street from the Tippecanoe County jail to make sure inmates and their visitors know their voting rights.

"When people are released we want this to be the first thing they see, like, as soon as you're released those rights are restored so we want them to see that very clearly before that October 5th registration deadline.

"We want folks to notice that Black Americans, in particular, are targeted by voter disenfranchisement laws," said Vanessa Pacheco, member of YWTF and a caucus of the group called 'The Collective,' which specifically represents Black and Brown people in the community.

According to Pacheco, one in every 13 African-American has lost their voting rights, the average for non-Black citizens is one in every 56. She said there are a number of factors for this. 

"Poverty is something that disproportionately affects Black and Brown people and as a result, those very same people might be criminalized more frequently," said Pacheco. "Those very same folks might be put in violent situations, where, again, they end up in a prison pipeline."

Event speaker Frederick Williams understands this first hand. He was previously incarcerated, now spending his time out of jail speaking awareness on voter rights to others.

"We are their front line of defense when it comes to prison reform, we know the living situations," said Williams. "The ballot will always be more powerful than the bullet and the ballot will always speak louder than words." 

He hopes people who are not in jail but have gone through and/or are currently in the criminal justice system see the value in their vote this election season.

"All of our voices are equal," said Willaims. "We all pay taxes with the little bit that we do have. We are a small portion to the community but when we all come together, we need everybody, we need one body of change."

You can register to vote here. The deadline is Oct. 5. The billboard will also stay up until that date.

The Younger Women's Task Force is planning a number of voting-related events leading up to the election in November. You can keep up with the group here: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

West Lafayette
Overcast
43° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 38°
Feels Like: 39°
Kokomo
Overcast
43° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 39°
Rensselaer
Overcast
37° wxIcon
Hi: 41° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 37°
Fowler
Overcast
37° wxIcon
Hi: 42° Lo: 34°
Feels Like: 37°
Williamsport
Overcast
38° wxIcon
Hi: 46° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 33°
Crawfordsville
Overcast
44° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 39°
Feels Like: 40°
Frankfort
Overcast
44° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 40°
Delphi
Overcast
43° wxIcon
Hi: 50° Lo: 37°
Feels Like: 39°
Monticello
Overcast
41° wxIcon
Hi: 48° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 41°
Logansport
Overcast
41° wxIcon
Hi: 49° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 41°
More rainfall ahead.
WLFI Radar
WLFI Temps
WLFI Planner

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 162607

Reported Deaths: 4130
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion25871792
Lake14222358
St. Joseph9532166
Elkhart9156137
Allen8552230
Hamilton6335114
Vanderburgh609062
Tippecanoe391815
Porter341650
Hendricks3367134
Monroe333238
Johnson3239130
Delaware307675
Clark303163
Vigo272440
Madison248096
LaPorte236161
Cass228523
Warrick201565
Kosciusko198427
Floyd185868
Howard168466
Bartholomew146958
Dubois145526
Marshall145126
Wayne137931
Henry131330
Grant131039
Boone128050
Hancock123144
Noble121935
Jackson118517
Dearborn101728
Morgan98940
Lawrence94737
Gibson92812
Daviess91334
Clinton90316
Shelby89431
LaGrange82815
Knox81310
Harrison79924
Posey7667
Putnam76616
DeKalb75811
Fayette73918
Jasper6655
Miami6615
Steuben6578
Montgomery62022
White61016
Greene57338
Scott54513
Decatur52539
Adams5237
Whitley4796
Ripley4748
Clay4587
Sullivan45514
Wells44911
Wabash4389
Starke4378
Huntington4365
Orange42125
Spencer4126
Washington3863
Franklin38125
Randolph38110
Jennings37913
Fulton3764
Perry36114
Jefferson3525
Pike34318
Carroll33813
Jay3316
Fountain3193
Tipton28223
Vermillion2681
Parke2504
Newton23611
Blackford2344
Rush2304
Owen2111
Martin2040
Pulaski1753
Crawford1631
Brown1463
Ohio1337
Union1140
Benton1100
Switzerland970
Warren891
Unassigned0236

COVID-19 Important links and resources

As the spread of COVID-19, or as it's more commonly known as the coronavirus continues, this page will serve as your one-stop for the resources you need to stay informed and to keep you and your family safe. CLICK HERE

Closings related to the prevention of the COVID-19 can be found on our Closings page.

Community Events