North Texas Daily

The importance of voting local

The importance of voting local

The importance of voting local
July 10
12:00 2020

In the months leading up to this November, you are going to be told to vote. A lot. You probably already have been, maybe multiple times. If you are growing tired of these constant reminders, it is time to recognize that they are necessary — and that calls to participate in elections apply to more than just the presidential race.  

The voting rate among college students in 2018 — where my freshman year saw stacks of voter registration cards distributed to large lecture halls packed with students — more than doubled from the previous federal midterm election. The effort to get out the vote will look different this year amidst the pandemic, but the push will be just as intense. Links shared on Canvas and QR codes plastered around campus can step in for high-contact voting registration methods. 

For some members of the university’s community, including me, November 2020 will be the first time voting in a presidential election. While exciting, there is a darker truth in this statement. Because for many of this population, it will be their first time voting ever. Unless they are not set to turn 18 until August, there is something inherently wrong with this, considering all of the local elections they could have participated in since getting the right to vote.  

From the state senate to a small-town city council, state, county and municipal government bodies have real effects on our lives, which are sometimes more noticeable than the effects of federal agencies. The current COVID-19 situation is a perfect example to illustrate the importance of participating in your local government — although it should not have to come to a global pandemic to show people why they should vote locally. 

The individuals that you are (or are not) electing to your local offices are the ones who decide if masks are mandatory. As seen by the recent outcry against Denton County Sheriff Tracy Murphree, the people you elect also decide if those mandates will actually be enforced. Local school boards will decide how our siblings, children and loved young ones will continue their education in the fall. Your city and county governments will decide whether to put the economy above human lives as they develop individual COVID-19 lockdown and subsequent reopening policies. 

Local government also plays a role in institutional racism, which has plagued and killed people in this country for much longer. Your municipal government is the one who can ultimately decide on the removal of the community’s Confederate and similarly racist statues. The decisions of district judges and state courts of appeals will affect the disproportionate incarceration rates of people of color. City councils are the entities with the ability to disband police departments and instead implement more community investments.    

Voting local needs to be normalized and prioritized. There is something worth voting for in every election, no matter how mundane or small one may think the government position is. For the generations politically disillusioned from what seems like empty promises from far-away officials and unfelt federal policies, local elections offer a chance to see real changes occur within a community. 

I cast my first vote in a local election. You should cast your next vote in a local election.  There is no need to wait for the opportunity either, because the next election in Texas is July 14. If you are living in and/or registered to vote in a different state, you can find your area’s upcoming elections at usa.gov/election-office.    

For those worried about their health, there are simple steps to follow to stay safe while being politically active. Vote early and visit the polling center during slow hours. Wear a mask, distance yourself from others appropriately and bring your own pen or gloves to minimize contact while filling out your ballot. Research your local candidates and their platforms beforehand, so you can quickly and efficiently cast your vote.  

 Your civic duty is not the Olympics — it does not get pushed off because of the coronavirus. You need to pay attention to your government more than once every four years. Local elections are held frequently and each will affect an aspect of your community. To benefit from a truly efficient governmental system, you cannot skip the smaller races because you do not think they matter.

Featured Illustration: Austin Banzon

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Ileana Garnand

Ileana Garnand

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