Election day is less than a month away and, while this isn’t a presidential election year, it is no less important. For voters who live in Marion County, the mayoral race is heating up and could potentially be historic for Indianapolis if Melina Kennedy is elected as the first female mayor for the city. This is also a municipal election year and many seats on the City/County Council are up for grabs as are other council seats in surrounding counties.
These smaller municipal elections tend to have lower voter turnout than the years with presidential elections, but they are no less important. The candidates for whom you are voting have direct control over your city, town, or neighborhood. They make decisions on public safety, on parks and planning, and on the budget. The impact that these policy makers have affect your daily life in ways greater than the president or your federal legislators.
So, why is turnout so low? Well, there’s typically less campaigning and therefore less visibility of the candidates. The budgets are smaller and public appearances happen on a smaller scale. This leads many voters to not even know who is running in their district and not feel invested in the election. Many figure that these local seats have less significance because of lower profile of the candidates.
As a U.S. citizen, our democracy gives every adult the right to vote. We are fighting wars in other countries to promote democracy, but it’s interesting that we don’t utilize that right to it’s fullest potential. Particularly in these contentious political and economic times, we need to ensure that we are paying attention and are informed about the politicians whom we are electing into office. And, if we don’t like the job that they are doing, making that known at election time.
The Indianapolis Star has posted an interactive voter’s guide to the local candidates. You can search the candidates in your district, learn about their stances and backgrounds, and even print out your sample ballot so that you don’t forget your selections by the time you get to the polls. I highly recommend that you check it out.