Local elections matter

Since I have a spring birthday, I am not eligible to vote in this year’s elections. However, I do think it is important to stay informed, even if I can’t vote myself until the next decade rolls around.

It is difficult enough to get people to vote in general. Getting people to vote in non-presidential elections is even harder. Of those people who show up, it is an even smaller margin of people who actually pay attention to their entire ballot.

However, even though they are dismissed or forgotten, it is a big mistake to overlook the importance of educating yourself and casting your ballot in local elections as well.

Although voter turnout in general has been steadily rising in the past few years, the erasure of local elections even more specific than voting for state senators and representatives is very prevalent.

Dr. Christopher Warshaw teaches political science at the George Washington University. He delved deeper into the topic of why local elections have such a low turnout in a May 2019 citation titled “Local Elections and Representation in the United States,” which was published in the Annual Review of Political Science.

There are multiple reasons. To name a few: local elections often have special election days, limited media coverage and an abundance of voters who may be out-of-touch with problems faced by poorer and younger citizens within the community. To reiterate, richer and older eligible voters tend to vote at a higher rate than their counterparts.

As you can see, this has helped a system where the status quo is rarely questioned. This cycle will continue unless people start acknowledging the progress that can be made at a smaller level of government.

Mayors, sheriffs and school board members actually live in the communities they represent, making them far more accessible than politicians in Washington. Changes at a local level are less glamorous and directly obvious, but can pave the way for not only crucial changes needed within communities, but for higher levels of government to catch on.

Even if you are like me and many others, who will move to Mars before majoring in political science and going into government, politics impact everyone and even if a candidate you wanted did not win, at least your voice was heard.