Nick Veron, 34, is a third-generation Elkhart factory man. He works on the same assembly line as his dad, making steel lathes and machine screws. Years ago, a factory paycheck could comfortably support an entire family; today, Veron earns $16 an hour and has no health insurance. His wife, Janet, a sometimes retail worker and homeschool teacher, says of their town, “Most people are really ragged, tired, beat down. The only reason they’re here is because they’re too poor to get out.”
The Verons, like so many low-income people in northern Indiana, do not plan to vote on Nov. 4. In their case, Nick says, they’ve distanced themselves from a political process they see as irredeemably corrupt, drowning in tainted money “the higher up you go.” Others in this section of the Rust Belt — where more than 16 percent of the population lives in poverty — say they have faced logistical obstacles to voting.