Your vote is your voice, so get out to vote and make your voice heard!
When we think about voting, most of us probably think about voting for president. But there are so many more positions! When you look at your ballot on election day, you’ll see local candidates and proposed legislation with local impacts. Local elected officials make decisions that affect your everyday life in a way the president doesn’t. They make decisions about minimum wage, healthcare, police funding and much more. Voting is your chance to decide on the quality of life for you and your community. Seize this opportunity to take charge of your future.
Here are three ways your vote can be used to make powerful changes in your community.
How your vote affects you
Voting has a direct impact on your life and its effects run deep. For example, lets talk about your vote and student debt. Student debt is currently at 1.6 trillion dollars, making it the second-highest source of consumer debt. Part of the reason why people have so much student debt is because of low wages. Minimum wage is decided at the federal level, but states also have the option to set their own minimum wage laws. Another reason that student debt is so high is because of financial aid. The high cost of attending a college means many students have to take out loans, and those loans are often more than they make after graduating. Who can make changes to financial aid policies? Congress. Who decides which people are in Congress? People who vote.
Another example: your vote can decide the quality and cost of your healthcare. Politicians decide which healthcare policies are worth enacting. Those policies can determine the cost of healthcare which can affect who has access to healthcare, and what level of access. State governors are part of the group of elected officials who choose how to deal with situations like a global pandemic.
How your vote affects your community
When you walk outside and your feet hit the pavement, you’re walking on roads that the local government decided to build and maintain, using money that the city council (think Leslie Knope) dedicated to infrastructure. When you sit in a classroom,you’re learning from a curriculum partly decided on by your local school board. Who decides who serves on a school board? You guessed it, the people who vote.
Now let’s talk about the police. According to the U.S. Census of Governments, state and local governments spent around $115 billion on police in 2017. State and local leaders are the ones who play a huge role in deciding the makeup of the budget for the district they represent. Feel like your city is spending too much money on the police? You can vote for leaders who want to redirect funds to other community needs, like health and education.
If you want better roads and a safer community to live in, use your voting power to elect local officials who are dedicated to improving the issues you care about. They’re the ones who have the power to implement policies that can help with concerns in your community, but you’re the one with the power to get them into office. Local elections happen often, and since voter turnout is low, you have an even greater chance of making an impact.
How your vote affects your future
Your vote holds so much power, but not just in the moment. Who you choose to vote for can have a lasting impact on your future and the future of your community. Term limits for local offices depend on the role and state. For example, if you’re voting for a state governor in Texas, a term is four years. That’s four years for them to create state laws that can help improve your future. The term for a city mayor is also four years.
Who you vote for can impact your future in other ways as well. For example, if you’re passionate about environmental policy and you vote for someone who cares about those issues, then they’ll work to create policies that help make the changes you want to see.
Gen Z and millennials will make up around 37% of the electorate in the upcoming election. If you’re fired about the power of your vote, become an #IGNITEtheVote ambassador today!