One of the excuses people make for failing to vote is that it really doesn’t make any difference. A couple of recent examples show just how wrong that really is.
This past November, the State of Washington held special elections to fill some vacant seats. This sort of off-year, local election is exactly the sort that far too many of us decide to sit out. This time, however, Democrats elected Manka Dhingra to the State Senate. Washington has a Democratic Governor and the State Legislture has a Democratic majority. But, as Jennifer Bendry explains:
That one-seat differential has mattered. Republicans in the Senate have prevented Gov. Jay Inslee from enacting some of his top legislative priorities relating to climate change, voting rights and birth control. They also forced Democrats to compromise on a smaller state budget.
So what’s happened in the three and a half months since the Democratic win? Washington has already passed a bill requiring automatic voter registration, Election Day registration, and pre-registration for 16 & 17 year olds, and has adopted a & State Voting Rights Act. The Governor plans to implement a carbon tax.
“We intend to make a full-scale effort in the next session of the Legislature if we win,” Inslee said. “It will be a bell in the night, showing hope for the country, rejecting the Trump agenda of denying climate science.”
In Virginia, Democrats retained the governorship and picked up a large number of seats in the State Legislature, but remain in the minority. However, their increased numbers led to what some are calling a “muscular minority.” Some remaining Republicans can apparently see the writing on the wall and have suddenly become more willing to compromise than they were with the former Governor, Democrat Terry McAuliffe.
As Blue Virginia reported:
As the 2018 session draws to a close, the influence of House Democrats, who picked up 15 seats in November’s wave election, can be felt through a range of legislation that will benefit working families throughout the Commonwealth.
The newly-configured House of Delegates has delivered results for Virginians in the areas that include health care, economic development, education, the opioid crisis and criminal justice reform.
“We got a lot done this session, bringing about much-needed change that Virginia voters wanted to see in Richmond when they went to the polls last fall,” said House Democratic Leader David J. Toscano and Caucus Chair Charniele Herring. “We delivered on our number one campaign promise of passing Medicaid expansion in the House of Delegates, which will extend access to affordable health care to nearly 400,000 people. We also passed key bills to address student loan debt and the opioid crisis, and we moved the ball forward in areas ranging from criminal justice reform to the school-to-prison pipeline — all while remaining laser-focused on ways to bring good jobs to Virginia. There is still plenty of work to be done, especially in the areas of women’s equality and the gun violence crisis, but we are proud of the change we were able to achieve with our muscular minority this session. If this is what 49 looks like, imagine all we can do with 51.”
Virginia also voted, and Democratic Governor Ralph Northam signed, groundbreaking medical marijuana legislation that became effective immediately. More info: here.
Elections have consequences. Getting out and voting in every election — including local elections and “off-year” elections really matters. Just do it.
Picture found here.