The Importance of Local Elections

Photo by Elliott Stallion on Unsplash

Local elections are something I go on about from time to time (Here, here, here, here, and here if you’re curious). I honestly believe that local elections are more important than national elections. I’m consistently baffled by the people who only vote every four years when it’s for the president, but don’t care who is on their town councils. To me, that’s like only going to church twice a year, on Valentine’s Day and St. Patrick’s Day. It’s a fundamental misunderstanding of what is important and how things actually work. Now there is something happening in my town that perfectly illustrates the point, so I have to write about it.

For some background, I grew up and still live in a suburb of Hartford, CT. Connecticut is a solidly blue state, sort of. We almost always go Democrat in the presidential elections. And, at least currently, all of the state’s congressional delegation is Democrats. But that doesn’t mean the state is anywhere near uniform. In my lifetime, the governor’s seat has been split pretty evenly between Republicans and Democrats. My town pretty consistently goes Republican for Mayor and the town council (The few Democrats we’ve gotten in the town hall always sound awfully Republican to me, too). That’s where we are now, in 2022. Connecticut went for Biden and sent a bunch of Democrats to Washington, but my suburb went for Trump and has Republicans in virtually every town position.

Now the Republicans running the town are trying to shrink the number of polling places in town from eight to three. They are claiming that it will not make it harder to vote but will streamline things and make voting more efficient. That’s obvious BS. The Democrats on the town council are against it as are state level Democrats. They all point out that cutting polling places by more than half will create traffic and lines and wait times. All of those things suppress voting. And the people who would be most affected are those with kids, multiple jobs, long hours, and little flexibility. In other words, the people who are more likely to vote for Democrats. I’m hoping enough of us voice our displeasure that the proposal doesn’t pass, although I’m not terribly optimistic.

And this is why local elections are so important. This is how Republicans have hijacked our country. So much of what happens in this country happens at the local level. Education and infrastructure and abortion and policing and insurance and taxes and on and on and on. Even things that seem national, like the Affordable Care Act, is completely administered locally. That’s why it hasn’t worked as well as hoped. Republican heavy areas refused to implement it properly. And, most importantly, voting is a local issue. Gerrymandering, vote-by-mail, absentee voting, drop boxes, convict disenfranchisement, and all the rest are things that happen locally. Republicans have put a lot of time and effort into capturing states and municipalities. As a result, they’re running the show even though most Americans don’t like their policies.

I want people to wake up. I want people to vote in every election. Literally every election: primaries, odd-year, midterm, presidential, referenda, and any special elections that come up. But, if that’s too big a burden and you’re only going to vote every four years, don’t waste it on the president. Make sure you vote when your town council, board of ed, mayor, and governor are up for grabs. That’s when you can make the biggest difference.

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