Go Rock the Vote
Written by Allison Anker
My mom is probably the biggest dork when it comes to voting. Every time there is a local election, she hurriedly rushes to the polls to cast a vote, proudly sticking her “I voted” sticker on her shirt. Her enthusiasm for voting has carried on to me, with her drilling into my head the mantra that it is my privilege and duty as an American to vote. Voting is a key step in the republic we live within, so why do so few actually vote then?
According to governing.com, less that 21% of a city’s eligible voting population turns out for local elections, a figure which is quite simply disappointing. Local elections do matter, whether to the legislators who need an idea of what the general population’s opinions are towards certain issues, or to various departments within the city when deciding on policy ideas they should draft. When you cast a vote for who you want as your city’s mayor, or who is on the board of directors, you take an active part in shaping the course of your city’s success. By voting yes or no to privatization of schools, you shape the future of the kids living within your town. Voting influences every aspect of your life, from the mom and pop stores you visit regularly to the type of commute you experience on the way to work. When you take a part in such a key part of the American government, you better not only yourself but those around you.
Why don’t people vote? A variety of reasons are at the root of the issue. Many people are unable to miss work to visit the polls. Maybe people don’t know enough about the issues on the ticket and decide no vote is better than an uneducated one. Local elections aren’t often advertised, so it’s common that people just don’t know that there is a vote taking place. All of these issues are reversible, though some may be harder to tackle than others. The government should make it a priority to make sure that people can vote, whether by mandating that half-days be provided to employees with legitimate proof of a vote, or expanding the functioning hours of a voting station. I’m all for being educated about what you are voting on, and sometimes it is as simple as googling what a word means. If local newspapers made it a priority to broadcast word of a vote, many citizens would be able to see and understand what is happening in their town and when.
Before one can even hope to tackle the lack of Americans voting in national elections, we have to correct the issue of local elections. The elections on the local level are the ones that citizens are most closely tied to, as they are voting on issues that will directly affect them, and choosing who will represent them at a larger level. Representation is key, and the only way to ensure that you are best represented is by casting a vote and showing who or what is important to you. Believe it or not, elections at local levels affect every tier of the government, as local government officials play an instrumental role in bettering the state and nation as a whole.
I’m anxiously counting down the days until I turn 18, just so I can become a registered voter. For now, the best I can do is encourage my friends and relatives to vote. What can you do?