Surprise! Voting actually matters!

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As I recently turned in my ballot for the November 5th election this year, I went with a sense of pride and excitement. Being able to vote has always been something I looked forward to growing up, and so once able to register, I got myself signed up.

But not every election is one that carries a lot of weight. I felt fortunate that my first election was a midterm election. I got to vote for my house representative, and a state senator. But as I unsealed my mailed out ballot this past month and began to look over the names and positions, I learned that this year’s ballot contained none of the exciting positions or names that I had seen the previous year.

No, this years ballot was made up of county judges and local city council members. In fact the only positions getting attention was the Seattle city council elections, as well as Tim Eyman’s 30 dollar car tab bill. I was shocked when I realized how bland the ballot was.

But as I read over it more, and looked deeper into the candidate’s, I had a realization. This ballot was more important than any previous ballot I had filled out, simply on the fact that these are the people and the issues that affect all of us in our daily lives.

When discussing the local election with different people I would hear responses like ‘none of it really matters right?’ or ‘I’m not even registered, so it doesn’t matter in the end.’

Now I’m not going to lie, I don’t spend every day pondering about my local fire commissioner and whether they are doing a good job. Outside of the mailed out voters pamphlet I didn’t even know what half of these people running looked like. But I still took the time to read and form an opinion on who I thought would do a good job.  Looking into the job description, what candidates said about their plans and goals, looking at what previous positions they had held and who had the overall best qualification for the job.

According to Snohomish County there are over 475,926 registered voters in the county, and on the majority of issues only received 204,160 votes, or 42.90%. Under half of the people registered to vote in the county actually voted. Under half of registered voters decided who is in charge of rescue services, superior courts and parks and roads. That number also excludes people who are not registered to vote at all.

In previous years where the vote you cast arguably counts more than in presidential, or midterm elections, only 42% of registered voters voted. The U.S. Census Bureau approximates that 814 thousand people live within Snohomish County. Around 25% of people that live within Snohomish County actually voted in this last election.

While these elections are always important, they are extra significant when you look at the current state of politics across America. Local elections are a great way to get back to the basics and the grass roots of politics, especially when it is the local election that has the most impact on our daily lives.

The best thing I can do is encourage everyone to register to vote. Washington makes it simple to vote using a vote-by-mail ballot system. This time next year votes will be cast for the next president of the U.S. But it is also a chance to look at local city council members and county judges.

Don’t miss another chance to vote and to follow through with one of your fundamental rights as an American. You can start the process now by going to www.sos.wa.gov/elections/register.aspx. Whether it is a local election, or the President of the U.S., register to vote. Help shape a future for the U.S. that you’d like to see.