Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Your Vote Still Counts ... at least locally

Voter turnout for today’s mid-term U.S. elections are expected to be the lowest in history. Those who keep track of these sorts of things are thinking that somewhere along the lines of a 20% or less turnout will be the end result even though voter registration has picked up significantly over the last 10 years.

That is a sad commentary but an accurate barometer which reveals the ever growing level of frustration and ambivalence the voters in America have about their political system and particularly those national candidates for the highest offices in the land.

What is most sad however, is this increasing lack of participation in the political process is greatly affecting the daily lives of the country’s citizens and these voters, because of their dissatisfaction of the status quo in Washington, D.C. by not showing up at the polling place are leaving the fate of their futures in the hands of a very few.

I can understand the resentment caused by the continued stalemate that politics on the national level has caused. The gridlock in the nation’s capitol is worse than that on the line of scrimmage in a pro football game, with one big difference, no satisfying touchdowns have been forthcoming from the Congress or office of the President in such a long time that people have forgotten what quarter the game is even in.

However, this failure of those nationally elected Presidents, Senators and Congressmen should not be allowed to carry over into the ballot booth, especially during mid-term elections when most often important Statewide and local offices are up for grabs as well as important referendums and initiatives that usually appear on the ballot.

Let’s be honest here. What happens in D.C. within that political bubble up and down the Mall generally stays within that bubble. On a day to day basis very little that happens or doesn’t happen in the nation’s Capitol finds it way down that long path to the individual citizen’s front door -- the IRS being one of the few exceptions.

Yet, what happens in one’s State in the way of legislation, decisions that are made in one’s County, votes by a Board or City Council in one’s city or town does have great import and impact in that one’s daily life. It can affect their wallets, where they live, how they live and how important and needed services are delivered and provided for.

That is why State and Local elections are of paramount importance every voting period. Who gets elected Governor, State Legislator, Auditor, State Attorney General, Mayor, County Sheriff and who holds a seat on City Council will affect how one lives day to day.

In most States the mid-term elections are the time to have referendums on the ballot. If voters stay home then that referendum or piece of proposed legislation will still affect their lives. If it is a bond issue or a proposal to increase property taxes in your area the voter needs to make their voice heard by casting a ballot on those issues. In this election many States have put forth new Minimum Wage proposals. Whether these and other issues pass or fail will determine the individual’s future household budgets. Some of the issues on State and Local ballots this year deal with environmental issues, pipeline installation, zoning laws and infrastructure changes. If only 20% of the voting public shows up at the polls then the other 80% have given up their voice and are allowing this minority of voters to decide their future and the fate of them and their families.

The individual vote really does still count in America. Perhaps not so much on the national level, but it continues to carry great weight on the State and Local level.

Big corporate bucks, high level CEO’s, Lobbying groups and special interests with deep pockets may control national elections for President and Congress but John Q. Public still carries the day on those offices and ballot issues in his or her State, City and Township and that voting voice still must be heard loud and clear.

The voter must move past their disgruntlement over the failure of their vote seeming to not matter in Washington and return to the polls triumphant fully aware that they still have a voice on those offices and local initiatives that matter the most, affect them and their families and neighbors where they live.

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