Why State Elections Matter

Jun 29th, 2020 | By | Category: Senior Moments Blog

Voters and State Election Participation

There is almost always reduced voter participation in state and local elections, as numbers reported in past races will testify. The likely cause is voters consider them less important than federal elections. They don’t get as much press and many voters fail to understand the importance of state and local elections. So let’s take a look at why we should change our minds about races closer to home.

Understanding Precincts and Districts

Your voter registration card tells you what precinct and what district you belong to. So who determines where you vote? State and local officials divide up the state into voting districts, and then they divide districts into precincts and assign those precincts to a specific voting location. Increasingly states are permitting mail-in ballots so voting locations are a non-issuse in those cases. However, even people voting by mail are assigned districts and precincts. Why is this important??

The political party with the majority of votes appoint/elect state and local officials who make the determination about districts and precincts. They draw the lines for districts and precincts. And this is where the issue really needs to be understood. Those officials can draw lines that ensure their political party wins every election because they know what political party claims the majority of voters by city, town, neighborhood, and street. Redistricting happens every so often (when state and local officials determine an ‘update’ is required). The lines are then re-drawn to ensure their political party remains in power. This is called gerrymandering, and generally across the country, it stinks.

So if you understand gerrymandering, you then can understand why it is important to vote in state and local elections. You are electing people to represent you in state and local government, including those who draw district voting lines. In effect, you are voting on whether your vote ‘counts’ or makes a difference. It isn’t allowed to make much of a difference if your district has lines that ensure one party wins every election. Your vote counts because you likely want people representing you who will commit to eliminating gerrymandering and refuse to skew the vote.

Understanding the Electoral College

An additional reason for voting in state and local elections requires an understanding of the Electoral College. The Electoral College was formed specifically to elect the President of the United States. Your vote in the Presidential election is a vote for an elector. Each state gets electors based on its total number of Senators and Representatives in Congress. There are 538 electors in the Electoral College. And the presidential candidate who gets 270 or more votes wins.

States vary in the methodology of chosing electors. But it is important to understand that each defines the process of choosing electors. If your state votes on electors by districts, in effect your district/local vote is determining how your vote for president will be cast.

We seniors need to remain committed to voting in each and every election, federal, state and local. We are the largest voting block in the country. Our vote matters.

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