I have some big decisions to make in the next few weeks.
I have to decide who to vote for in our city elections for alderman and school board.
Do you bother to vote in local elections? Big national and state elections get a lot of attention. Everyone votes in big elections but often local elections are overlooked. It is not uncommon for turnout in small local elections to be only ten to twenty percent of a big state race. If you don’t vote in your local elections, consider the following five reasons you should.
1. Local elections often have a very direct influence on your day to day life.
While it is fun to watch big national debates on important issues like abortion or gun control, there are local issues that affect you daily. Why is your commute to work so long? Because some local mayor made poor appointments to the planning commission and they didn’t plan so well. Your problems with your garbage pickup and finding a job in your hometown are directly impacted by the quality of your local elected officials. Don’t believe me? See Detroit.
2. Your vote has more influence in a local election.
Remember that low voter turnout number? That means your vote is even more influential. In a national election, your vote is one in millions. In a city council race your vote is one in hundreds. If you support a candidate by knocking doors for him, you can single-handedly win the race by your influence in a small election. I once saw a man win a race for local constable by the vote of 1-0. He wrote his own name in for an uncontested seat. Want to feel important? Vote in a local election.
3. You can know and influence candidates in a local election.
Let’s face it. What are the odds you can have a personal influence on a candidate for Governor? But in a local race you can get to know a candidate personally and with direct contact you can influence their positions. You can probably do it while standing in the aisle of your local Wal-Mart.
4. You will support the local laboratories of democracy.
Strike a blow for federalism. We often talk about how states are the laboratories of democracy. The same is true for local governments. You would be amazed at some of the crazy but sometimes brilliant ideas that get tried out at a local level. Ideas are much easier to try out (and repeal if they don’t work) at the local level. Also, the stronger your local government, the less intervention will be required by state and federal laws. Take care of your own business and conservatives will have a better argument to keep the feds out of our business.
5. Local candidates become state and federal candidates
Where do candidates for congress come from? They come from local mayors and state representative seats. Most candidates that run for state and federal offices have run previous campaigns at the local level. By voting in local elections you are helping to develop the farm team. You want better congressman? Elect better city council members.
So there are your five reasons. Check your local election dates and go vote. Since turnout is low, the lines are short and it only takes a few minutes to vote. You will be a better citizen and our country will be better for it.
If you have any comments or great stories about local elections, please be sure to leave them in a comment below.