Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Think globally, vote locally

This off-cycle is on!

Normally, a non-Presidential election is considered unimportant. The turnout's proportional to the level of the candidates. Senate races bring out more voters than Board of Supervisor elections; gubernatorial contests have more participants than a sheriff's race. But it's all a fraction of the turnout for a national election.

This year (at least in Virginia), the state-wide races are being framed as a referendum. The President has personally endorsed some of the candidates running in the state. So if you vote for that candidate, it can be seen as a vote of support for the President, and vice-versa.

A matter of scale

That referendum concept might motivate some folks who have strong feelings for or against the President -- especially those who normally pass on the "unimportant" races.

But really -- every election is important. Because the results of every election affect your daily life. The county board of supervisors won't change what's happening in Washington. But they can approve that new strip mall to be built next to your house.

A town council won't influence State Department policy, but they could drain your community's coffers through cronyism.

Everyone rails against the IRS. But meal taxes, utility taxes, property taxes, vehicle taxes, business license fees, and many other such costs are determined at the local, regional and state levels. The people you help to elect to all levels of local government have a big say in your daily life through laws, ordinances, taxes, and fees.

Deciding not to choose is still a decision

If you choose to sit out this election? Then you help the side you're against. You've deprived the side you agree with of your support.

Don't like either side? Sure, I get that. It's not a perfect world. But remember, you're not voting black or white, but rather light gray vs. dark gray. You can sit this one out if you like, but know that you're going to get gray, regardless. Would you like it lighter or darker?

I choose to choose

There's another reason why every election is important. The results are what politicians use to gauge the will of the people. And that determines their actions going forward.

If 10% of the eligible voters turn out, and 85% vote the same way, it's considered a landslide. Clearly, everybody wants this candidate and his/her policies.

So policy is set on feedback from 85% of 10%. To plug in some numbers, if a district has 1,000 voters on the rolls, only 100 show up to vote, and 85 vote the same way. That Mandate of the People comes from 85 individuals out of a group of 1,000.

Do the other 900 agree with those 85 or do they think more like the 15? Doesn't matter. They didn't vote.

Every election is important. I consider it my civic duty to participate -- every time.

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