Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Consider participation in local elections mandatory

If you live in America, you have an election coming up. When they're not presidential or senatorial elections (every 4 and 2 years, respectively), they're often called "off-year" elections which infers that they don't matter as much and is straight up bullshit.

It came as a shock to me, post-2016 presidential election, that people legitimately did not know there were elections every single year, not just for presidents and senators. Yes, yes....there are primary elections and local elections that take place outside of the "bigger" elections of president/congress.

Listen. In order for the system to work as intended, you have to vote in every election. You have to know what positions are up for election, what the people in those offices actually DO, and how that connects to you and your quality of life.

Most elections are on November 5, 2019. You've got your governor elections in Kentucky, Louisiana, and Mississippi and your legislative elections for both houses of the LA and MS legislatures and the VA general assembly as well as the lower house of the NJ legislatures, but otherwise it's very local.

Ballot measures, mayoral elections, city and town council, school boards, county commissioners and executives, district attorneys, etc.

The people that control the things that happen in your backyard. I'd say that's fucking important.


Yet so many people treat local elections as optional. People, that's fucking crazy. What you are saying when you don't vote in local elections is that the quality of your schools, public transit, what public services are available, the safety of drivers/cyclists/pedestrians on roads, the price of rent, marijuana and alcohol ordinances, community health and wellness, access to treatment for addiction and mental health, treatment of animals in shelters, local taxes, neighborhood cleanliness and viability, crime, environmental conditions around your home, potholes on your roads, minimum wage, on and on and on etc etc etc  DO NOT MATTER TO YOU.

Is that true? I mean, according to neighborhood facebook pages wild animals can't fart in the street without people having something to say about it so lower than 90% turnout on every election day makes absolutely no sense to me. It's like people want to complain but also sit inside on their couches behind their screens and not do a fucking thing about it. That's not how life works.

Local elections are often decided by a handful of votes. If the community you live in matters enough to you to complain about anywhere, it matters enough for you to vote. When candidates knock on your door, open it and talk to them. Throw out the mailers you get from the candidate's opposition because no one sends mailers about their opposition that are not meant to skew information. If the mailer is about the candidate’s stances alone, read it. But also go directly to the website of candidates and see what they're about. If you can attend an event they'll be at, do so. Meet them face to face. Find out who lines up with you. If you have questions, contact them and ask. If one is an already in office and running as an incumbent, pay less attention to what they say in campaign materials and more attention to how they have voted on those issues, all of which is public record. If you need help navigating that, let me know.

If you are unsure of how local elections connect to congressional and presidential elections and who does what, let me know. I will help you see the connections and who is responsible for what.

Don't just sit in your house with your teeth in your mouth reading and writing complaints on your neighborhood's facebook page. You are responsible for what happens in your community, including the people who are in charge of running it. So hire them as employees and hold their feet to the fire to work for you. That is what politicians do - they work for constituents. In some cases they have forgotten that and need a reminder. You are the one to remind them.

There are no off-year elections. Up next in this vein: what to do if you want to be involved but hate the political machine and know corporate/dark/big money doesn't belong in politics.

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