Pay attention to smaller elections
By Thunderword Staff
With ballots arriving, it's time to acknowledge the impor- tance of voting in congressional and legislative elections.
This November is the Congressional midterms, with 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the U.S. Senate on the ballot. Here in Washington, there are ten U.S. House seats, corresponding with congressional districts, and one U.S. Senate seat.
Also on the ballot, all 49 legislative districts in Washington will be electing representatives for the state House of Representatives, and multiple districts will be electing representatives to the state Senate. There are 230 candidates statewide running for seats in Olympia.
But despite all these races, a recent Thunderword survey showed that many Highline students are unaware of either the election or the candidates on the ballot.
Because legislative and congressional races are more com- mon and more localized, they often receive less attention than presidential or governor's races. Many people choose not to vote in these elections because they don't feel that electing legislators matters as much as electing a president.
While electing a president can mean major change for the country, these smaller elections are more important in terms of changes in everyday life.
Legislatures are responsible for the creation of laws. In 2017, Congress passed 329 new laws and 708 res- olutions, and the Washington state Legislature passed 377 new laws.
By voting in these elections, you are choosing who is creating these laws. Candidates' positions could become decisions on bills that effect your daily life. It is Congress that will set funding for federal student aid, veteran's assistance, and Medicare. It is the state Legislature that will decide the cost of tuition and funding for capital projects such as the renovation of Building 26.
Because these legislative bodies are involved with everyday life, choosing congressional and legislative representatives is how voters create change. By choosing the candidates that best represents voters' interests, they are showing what they want in future decisions. Non-voters are letting others decide who makes the rules, from taxes to transportation.
Between promotional and attack ads, signs, and endorse- ments, it can be hard to choose which candidate best represents you. Figure out which political, social, economic, or environ- mental issues matter most to you, then find the candidate that best fits those views.
Look for reliable information about the candidates. The vot- er's guide is a resource provided by the Washington secretary of state, giving information for every candidate and initiative on the ballot. The voter's guide is available both in paper and online at https://www.sos.wa.gov/elections/research/2018-vot- ers-pamphlet.aspx. Take time to meet the candidates in your area and share your concerns. While ads can give a sense of character, know that they are designed to sway your opinion, so watch objectively.
These elections are especially tough to choose a candidate. With heated races in both the 8th and 9th congressional dis- trict, Democrat and Republican parties have donated millions of dollars to campaigns for advertisements and publicity. Don't be stressed by this. By knowing the issues and the people running to fix them, you can be an informed voter.
Ballots are due Nov. 6 by 8 p.m.