The Magic of Voting in Local Elections


Mother Jones published a great article about the upcoming Virginia election and what it may mean for Democrats nationwide.  (Here, in the Commonwealth, we have off-year elections for state officials.  So, while we won’t be voting for Congress or the Senate until 2018, we have statewide elections on Tuesday, November 7th.  That’s just over a month from now.)  Virginia’s not the only place with elections on Nov. 7th.  As Mother Jones explains:

 On November 7 voters will go to the polls to pick mayors in New York, Atlanta, Detroit, and Birmingham. New Jersey will get a new governor, and a state Senate election in Washington state could give Democrats full control of the state government.

I’ve posted before and written in Witches & Pagans magazine about the importance of local elections.  Sadly, too many people, especially Democrats, tend to ignore local elections and vote only in Presidential elections.  You may have voted against Donald Trump and you may be working for the Resistance, but if we had a majority of Democrats in the House and Senate, it would be much easier to control Trump.  If your state legislature were full of Democrats, it could take steps to undo some of Trump’s damage, including passing laws to protect immigrants, LGBTQ people, and the environment.

And most politicians start out local.  They win a seat on the board of ed, go from there to the state legislature, run for Congress . . . .  Local elections are often won or lost by a small margin.  Your vote actually counts a lot more than it does in the presidential election (as does your magic).   That’s why it’s worth your time to get involved in elections outside your state or local area.  The person getting elected to the county council one state over could someday be in the Senate, voting on your health care or access to abortion.

So this is a plea to get involved right now in this year’s elections.  You don’t even have to live in one of the above states to phone bank, donate, contact your in-state friends and family, put a sign in your yard, etc.  And if you do live in a state with an election, now is the time to make sure you’re registered, that you know where to vote, to download a list of the Democratic candidates from the webpage of your state or county Democratic Committee.  In fact, in many places, you can vote early so you don’t have to stand in line or worry about something coming up that keeps you from voting.  I’ve already voted in Virginia.  Again, the webpage for your local board of elections or Democratic Committee should have information about how and where to vote early.

Let me say a word about phone banking.  I know.  I know.  I always said I couldn’t do it, too, until I did.  But it’s so easy and it can make a really big difference for local elections.  You can do it from home in your jammies and bunny slippers.  You can do it if mobility is an issue for you.  You can do it while you fold laundry.  All you need is a computer and phone.  You log onto the candidate’s website and fill in a simple form and, bingo, they send you names and phone numbers of registered Democrats.  They give you a suggested script.  And that script is mostly just making sure people know that there is an election coming up and where they should go to vote.  It’s VERY rare to get a negative reaction and, if you do, you can just say, “Thanks.  Sorry to have bothered you,” and go on to the next number.  Most of the time, you’ll be leaving a message on their answering machine.  Then, you check them off on your list and go on to the next one.  You can call 1, or 5, or 10, or as many people as you want.  You can stop whenever.  You can do a few more the next day or not.  Please consider just trying it.

And if you’re looking for some candidates who could use your help, Mother Jones has some suggestions:

The candidates who are seeking office [in Virginia] reflect the activist nature of the revitalized Democratic base. In the 12th district, which is centered around Blacksburg in Republican southwest Virginia, Run for Something is backing Chris Hurst, a former local newscaster whose girlfriend was murdered in an on-air shooting in 2015. Hurst, who left his old job in February, has become an advocate for gun control, attracting national support from Everytown USA and Moms Demand Action. Danica Roem, the Run for Something-backed Democratic nominee in the toss-up 13th District, is vying to be the first transgender lawmaker elected in Virginia. Her candidacy represents the party’s latest and most aggressive effort to unseat Republican culture warrior Bob Marshall, infamous most recently for his push to pass an anti-trans “bathroom bill.” Marshall’s politics are locked in time, but his district has shifted beneath him; Clinton carried the Manassas-area seat by 14 points last fall. Democrat Kimberly Tucker, a substantially bigger underdog against Republican Del. Barry Knight, decided to run after launching a local Indivisible group. So did the woman she beat in her primary.

We’re Witches.  We can do this.

Picture found here.


4 responses to “The Magic of Voting in Local Elections

  1. It’s a shame turnout drops if there isn’t a sexy office on the block.

  2. Another good thing about (most) local races is that you aren’t barraged with bought-and-paid-for misinformation and attack ads. With a little work you can get reasonably reliable information about the candidate’s positions and record. Often you can even meet them face to face. Go, Virginia!

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