Between the pandemic, rising unemployment in the US, and Black Lives Matter Protest across the country, November’s election will be a monumental one. Deciding who will ultimately get this Nation out of unprecedented times will be an important decision for many Americans. Before we make that big decision in November, we have another major election coming up on August 18th that is equally as important to Florida voters, our local Florida primaries. As important as primary elections are, only 27% of voters showed up to vote in the 2018 primary election. Sadly, only 63% of voters voted in the Governor’s race that year too.
So what does this say?! Floridians don’t vote and we absolutely NEED TO! Despite the lack of excitement for this race, primaries at the local level are extremely important for everyone. This race will determine what local candidate will end up on the ballet in November’s general election. Local and State elections are extremely important and many of us do not take them seriously enough. I’ve been guilty of this too. Despite our everyday criticism for whomever is occupying the White House, your local and state government have a much bigger impact on your community. Local elections matter!!! Here are 5 important reasons why you need to be voting in your local primary and every local election!
1. Your local officials and their policies affect your everyday lives
There is a hot debate right now on re-opening schools, reallocation of police funding, police brutality accountability, and the local economy. These policy changes will be determined by your local elected officials. Your school board members, superintendent of schools, police chief, judges and district state attorneys are all elected positions that we will decide ends up on the general ballot. We have some powerful races at stake in this election cycle and we need to make our voices heard. As we can see, elections have consequences, especially when we are not active participants.
2. Representation Matters
Because your elected officials can have such a major impact on your life, your vote helps to ensure you have candidates that represent your demographic and community needs. Primary voters historically are older, whiter, higher income earners than those who do not vote in primary elections. This is not the representation of the majority voting population. Also, with fewer people voting, your vote will carry much more weight!
3. Candidates Need to Know What Matters To You
Florida is a closed primary state which means you can only vote for candidates in your registered party during the primary elections. Whoever wins the primary, will get the party support for the general election. If you have a favorite candidate, they need your support to make this happen and win the general election. Also, if your favorite candidate loses in a tight race, the winning candidate and your party may make changes to their platform to appeal to more voters. A tight race will show the party what issues are important to their voters and what needs to be implemented in the party’s platform. This is why every vote matters!
4. Get Important Policy Changes on the Ballot
Primary elections do not just apply to candidates. They can also include new statues and policy changes that require a certain percentage of votes to appear on the general election. You may not realize policy changes you want passed don't receive enough support to get on the general ballot.
5. Your State Government Can Influence the Nation
Your government leads the charge for your state when the federal government does not. Remember at the start of the pandemic, the White House refused to issue any federal quarantine measures and ultimately let the states decide? Depending on the state’s response, we are now seeing the effect of those decisions and the impact on public health and the local economy. Businesses have closed and local hospitals are at capacity. You are personally seeing the impact of this. Historically speaking, state governments were the first to make landmark policy changes to some major issues among voters that created a wave of change across the nation; women’s rights, marriage equality, marijuana legalization, minimum wage and controversial laws like Stand Your Ground. Our local policies can eventually shape federal policies and create actual change across the nation.
Don’t we all want to be a part of that? We all have issues that we are extremely passionate about and we need to first look at making those in our local communities, because these are the communities that we live, work, and raise our families in. Change starts with us and we need to make our voices heard.
Make sure you vote this week during early voting or August 18th for the official election. If you are outside of Florida, visit your Supervisor of Elections website for important election dates in your state. GET OUT AND VOTE!
Florida early voting locations and voting information available here.