Let’s admit it, this election cycle has been WILD — virtual partisan conventions, debates with candidates six feet apart, and a fly on the Vice President’s head.
But all of those things relate to the Presidential election. And guess what? There are thousands of other elections happening this year on November 3 that hold just as much, if not more, importance. We’re talking about local elections.
The candidates that you elect locally have some of the biggest impacts on your day-to-day life. Want to get that pothole fixed on your commute home? Elect a local candidate. Feeling stressed about new developments popping up in your neighborhood? Elect a local candidate. Think your kid’s school needs more funding? It all comes back to local elections.
So much attention is given to the Presidential election, and with good reason — deciding on the person who will lead our country is incredibly important. But so is deciding on who is going to lead your county. Our lives are more frequently impacted by the candidates we elect locally. In case you don’t believe us, here are 5 reasons why you should also be paying attention to what’s going on down the ballot this election.
1. Direct Impact on Your Daily Life
The elected officials that are decided by local elections have direct impacts on your daily life. Public commissioners decide what your utility rates, district attorneys decide the severity of charges against individuals being tried in court, and county commissioners set the budget for your county on an annual basis. Whether you realize it or not, decisions like these affect the way you live your daily life. So if you really want that pothole on your morning commute to be patched, you need to vote in local elections and make sure you know who you’re voting for.
2. Local Elections Occur More Frequently
Local elections occur on a more frequent basis than the Presidential election, meaning you have more opportunities to affect the decision making processes that happen in your local government. By voting in local elections, you electing officials for your city, county, or district in a way that’s more responsive to the current issues.
3. Many National Policies are Started at a Local Level
Many of the policies that are now nationwide policies started in local government. Marriage equality, abortion laws, women’s suffrage, tax breaks — all of these policies found their beginnings in local government and worked their way up to the federal government. Local and state government is often thought of as an incubator for policy; elected officials at this level are able to test policies to see what works and work with Congress to scale it on a national level. Innovation flourishes in local government and can lead to huge change on a national level when policies are able to work on a smaller scale.
4. Leaders are Developed in Local Government
The candidates you see listed under “President of the United States” on your ballot had to start somewhere, and more often than not, that somewhere was local government. Leaders are shaped and developed in local government. People learn the basics of politics on the local level before they move up into the big leagues at the federal level. By casting your vote in local elections, you can help decide who will one day serve you as your U.S. Senator, Representative, or even President.
5. Your Voice is Louder in Your Community
Finally, your voice and your vote have the most impact at the local level. That’s not to say that your vote doesn’t matter in larger elections — it truly makes a difference. But the scale on which your vote makes an impact on the local level is much larger. Your one vote can tip the scales and win a candidate an election, and like we mentioned before, that candidate could prove to be a leader on a national level one day. Voting in local elections helps you shape and influence the future of your community in the short term and the future of the nation later on.
There are so many ways you can make your voice heard in local elections, and voting is just the start. If you live in Georgia, you can quickly get informed about who and what is on your ballot by visiting www.branch.vote!