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Voter turnout should be highest for local elections
City government has a much more direct impact on your life than the federal government, and your voice matters more at the local level.
Voter turnout next year will likely be very high, as interest in the Presidential election drives people to the polls. By contrast, turnout in this year’s city government election will be very low. It should be exactly the opposite.
How many times do you actually interact with the federal government? It is likely not very often. However, you drive on city streets every day. City government plows your street in the winter. City government picks up your trash every week. City government provides police and fire protection. City government provides public transit for those who cannot or do not wish to drive. Do you need permission to build a house? Do you want something changed about stop signs or traffic calming? City government handles all of that.
Not only does city government have much more of a direct effect on your life than the federal government, your vote matters much more in city elections because turnout is so small. The last time we had a contested Mayor’s race, the winner only got 6,300 votes in a city of nearly 80,000 people. The margin of victory was quite large, but the total number of votes was small.
Plus, you can directly lobby the city council when they meet to consider policy. There were 32 meetings scheduled for this year, all of which are open to the public. This does not count many other city commissions that meet throughout the year. Very few people can travel to Washington D.C. and even if they do they cannot speak to legislation. That is not the case for city government. Your city government is much more accessible than your Congressman, your Senator, and the President.
So if you are not registered to vote, get registered. Vote in both the primary and general elections. Your voice and your vote matters most in local government, whether it be at the city, county or township level. We need to start using that voice.