The importance of local elections in 2020

Isa Grunwaldt, Staff Writer

With election season in full swing and tensions running high over the national presidential election, it is important to remember that no matter what political office is up for grabs, elections matter. Generally, there is less hype over local elections than state or national elections, but local elections shouldn’t be labeled as lesser. 

IB music middle and high school teacher Mark Wells believes local elections are even more important than state or national elections.

“They directly affect us a lot more than the other elections because they are closer to home,” Wells said. “Most of the stuff that influences our daily life comes from a lot of those choices and a lot of those results so absolutely local elections are extremely important.” 

“Local elections are super important because, being it is important for everyone to be actively involved in helping make their community a better place, voting in local elections is a great way to do that,” Zoe-Kate Huey ‘21 said. “I would have voted already if I could!”

East Grand Rapids County Clerk, Karen Brower, is an experienced election ballot collector and can be seen in the front lobby area trying to get students at East registered to vote. This year, voter turnout and registration have boomed, and Brower is ecstatic about it. 

“You’ve always heard if you don’t vote you can’t complain, and that’s true so obviously people should care about what happens in their community,” Brower said. “They can have a voice in it. There have been many elections throughout history that have been decided by only a handful of votes. So, if you don’t vote, you are giving up your right to be upset about the results. Plus you are letting whatever percentage of people who are actually showing up to vote to make the decisions for you. So if you have an election with only a 20 percent turnout, and then only half of those people actually vote yes, you are letting 10 percent of those people decide for everyone. It really should be a more inclusive process where everybody votes and everybody gets to have a say in things.”

Mrs. Mapes, a government and U.S History teacher emphatically agrees with Brower that people should always care about voting in every election.

“You always should care, and you should always vote,” Maps said.

However, one thing she would change to the election process is the amount of media coverage local candidates receive from the press.

“I don’t think they get the publicity that the nation does and that’s what is frustrating especially for local candidates,” Mapes said. “The media is a corporate entity as well and they have to make money, and a lot of times making money means going with the news cycle that gets the most attention.”

It can be difficult to know who to vote for because of this lack of media coverage. Many times, people can open ballots or arrive at voting stations and not know half the candidates on the ticket. This then requires voters to look up individual candidates online, and most people can be deterred by this and just not vote for certain circuits or counties. This year, this will most likely be an easier fix because so many people are voting from home with mail-in or drop-off ballots.

A combination of more registered voters, a larger voter turnout, and more at home ballots will not only keep us safer during this pandemic but it also increases the credibility of our elections as more representative of the people.