The importance of local elections

By Madalyn Shircliff

It’s election season 2016 and the race for the presidency is heating up. That’s not the only race that matters, though.
This fall, election ballots will have more than just the presidential candidates on it – it will have several candidates running for local elections.
In Fort Worth, there are several offices up for election. Not only is there a state senate seat and two state house seats–there are multiple justice positions and a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives as well.
Many voters opt out of voting for these lower offices or choose the person who represents their own party without any knowledge of the candidates’ platforms. In years between major national elections, the voter turnout even drops to 40% or lower.
TCU junior Duncan McHarg is from North Carolina and is planning on voting in this election.
“The only office I know is up for reelection is governor,” McHarg said. “I didn’t vote in the last midterm election because I didn’t know who was running.”
According to Dr. Grant Ferguson of the TCU political science department, this is a common trend.
“In mid-term elections, generally it’s a lot easier to not hear about the candidates,” Ferguson said.
“You don’t know as much,” and this discourages voters from voting, he said.
Ferguson also offered a big-picture look at why voters should participate in local elections.
“Your chances of being the decisive voter are a heck of a lot better than they are, even in any swing state, for deciding the presidential election,” Ferguson said. “Local politics serves in part as kind of the farm team for state and national politics.”
However, Ferguson insists that local elections matter even more than that because they affect our everyday lives.
“You should care about local politics because local politics affect the policies that you live under more than almost any other on a day-to-day basis,” Ferguson said. “What kinds of priorities will our local elected officials pursue–noise ordinances, how much money we spend on parks, renovations on things like the stockyards–are all determined at a local level.”
The last day to register to vote in Texas is Oct. 11. Early voting is Oct. 24 through Nov. 4 and the official election day is Nov. 8.
Go out there and cast your vote!