HIGHLINE COLLEGE |Fri, Nov 15, 2019

Local elections may matter the most

Jack Fishkin

Odds are, the city you live in will be getting a new government this year. If last week's story on students and voting is any indication, however, you probably don't know or care.

In Washington state, we have an election every year. Most people are probably aware that there is a presidential election every four years.

However, fewer people likely know that there is a congressional election every two years, and fewer still may know that local elections happen in every odd-numbered year.

One Highline student explained that she doesn't follow local politics because she doesn't feel that information is readily available and generally doesn't apply to or have an effect on her life either way.

"I don't really care because it doesn't really change anything for me anyway, I don't think," she said.

"I just don't really know where to look for stuff like that, and I don't have the time with my job anyway," said another student.

But you should care.

In fact, the case could be made that your say in local elections should be of greater importance to you than politics on a national level, since state and local policy will have a greater impact on your daily life.

Think of the stores you shop at, the restaurants you eat at, the businesses you frequent. Whether these places are a single street or an entire city over is in the hands of city government planning.

Never mind whoever might end up being president, your day-to-day is ruled by the tax- es you pay, the roads you drive on, and the traffic tickets you're issued. How easy or difficult your commute to work or class is falls largely on the cities that govern local roads.

That's not to mention the importance of electing other more specialized positions like school boards.

Students cite a lack of availability in information or don't feel that they have the time todo the leg work to learn a candidate's views. But Washington voters are mailed a voter's pamphlet along with their ballot, which provides something of a run-down on each candidate's ideas of which issues are important and their vision for their respective city or district.

Additionally, during the recent voter registration drive in the Student Union, many students under the age of 18 were surprised to learn that Washington is one of 14 states that allows pre-registration, beginning at age 16.

That is, someone can go through the registration process prior to their 18th birthday, and will receive their ballot once they're of voting age without having to deal with registering again.

With all that said, maybe it's time to start paying closer attention to the goings-on of your city's government and who's involved in it, because this is where you have more of a voice than anywhere else in American politics.


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