September 21, 2022
Read time : 7 min

Historically, around 60% of eligible voters go to the polls during a presidential election year. That number falls to 40% or less during midterm elections. This is the unfortunate result of how voters view the importance of election cycles.

Outside of presidential election years, voters have the opportunity to vote for local and state candidates but fail to see their importance. However, all elections, including local or state ones, are incredibly important. Voting in every election is the heart of true democracy, as change can often start at the grassroots level.

Take a look at why midterm elections are important; how elections affect issues such as education, policing, environment, and taxes; why it is important to get involved in local and state elections; and how you can get involved.

Why midterm elections are important

Just because a presidential candidate is not on the ballot doesn’t mean an election is not important. Midterm elections are important in many ways:

  • They determine who will represent their states in both Congress and the Senate
  • This, in turn, allows voters to change the party in power in each chamber of Congress
  • Those in control directly determine the laws of the land. This is key when casting your vote
  • Winners of these elections are determined by popular vote, as opposed to the often controversial Electoral College, which determines who will be the next presidentThe person with the majority of the votes is the winner

Midterm elections also determine many governors’ races, in addition to:

  • Countless mayoral and city council seats where local policies and issues are determined
  • Local school board members are the decision-makers when it comes to the policies of public schools
  • State legislative lawmakers are responsible for determining the laws at the state level

In any given year, most of these elections don’t garner national attention. However, voters need to keep in mind that despite the lack of headlines, most legislation in the country is passed at the state level. This is why it is so important for voters to head to the polls, regardless of the year. The right to vote is what makes democracy work.

How local elections affect education, policing, environment, and taxes

Historically, many feel local elections are not important. But, that could not be further from the truth. The services that many take for granted are governed by local and state officials, whom you are entitled to vote for. Here are just a few examples of what local and state governments are responsible for:

  • Parks and recreation
  • Public works, such as streets, sewers, etc
  • Police and fire departments and emergency medical systems
  • Library services
  • Education
  • Rent costs and affordable housing
  • Public transit
  • Taxes

Mayors, city managers, city council members, sheriffs, and public services are overseen by the citizens of towns and cities who elect and fund them and by the states. This is why it's so important for the electorate to take local elections just as seriously as presidential ones. But this begs the question: why don’t they? These are some possible reasons:

  • Lack of knowledge of the issues
  • Voter apathy
  • The feeling that their vote does not matter

Ironically, very few votes often decide local elections, so your vote could make a difference in key issues of extreme importance to you and your family.

Why you should get involved in local and state elections

The main objective of social entrepreneurs is to bring about positive change in the world for the benefit of all. This is why it's so important for them to get involved in politics on the state and local levels. Here are just a few examples of how you can practice civic engagement:

  • Learn how your day-to-day life is impactedBecome better informed and engaged at the local level
  • Learn about government spending practices by attending city council or school board meetings
  • Think about the big picture of federal policy and become actively involved at the local levelVolunteer or run for office
  • Recognize that local politics often set the trends for moves on the state and national levelsIt is important to understand that politics are all interconnected
  • Exercise your ability to hold politicians accountableSimply understanding that your vote counts and they must be held accountable
  • Stay better informed on how your city council members are votingThe best way of doing this is to attend meetings and make your voice heard
  • Run for office and represent your fellow citizensIf you feel more needs must be done, consider running for office yourself

Up to Us can help

Learn how to get more involved and why civic engagement doesn’t end on Election Day. Check out our resources.