By Rogette Harris
Only 28 percent of registered Dauphin County voters participated in the May 18, 2021, election. Did the other 72 percent choose not to participate, or did they not realize an election took place? I would argue it’s a mix of the two, which is unfortunate since the political world looks incredibly bleak these days.
We don’t always get the government we want, but we do get the government we deserve if we do not participate.
I acknowledge I’m a politico, but even I admit government/elections is like a soap opera. With a soap opera, you can stop watching, pick up the same show years later and you can catch the storyline within a couple of episodes since the writers recycle the same plot. It’s the same with government and our elected officials. After all these years, we are still waiting on commonsense immigration reform, a raise in the minimum wage, higher paying jobs, ending systematic racism, gender equality, making debt-free college a reality, securing universal health care, real action on climate change, curbing crime and a host of other challenges that confront our country that require immediate attention.
So, whether you voted in the primary election on May 18th, why vote for the general election on Nov. 2 when it seems like nothing is being accomplished?
I’ll tell you why. You vote because every election matters and the candidates that win will matter. You vote because elections are more than just about your individual representatives in Washington, governor or who is president. Who you choose on Nov. 2nd to lead your local and county governments — whether as our county judge, township supervisor or commissioner, mayor, city council member, or even school board member will have a serious direct impact on your life, your loved ones and your community.
The people who win this year will more directly impact your lives and affect your wallets even more than who wins the U.S. Senate and governor races next year!
Voting does matter and has a lasting impact on all our lives. Take for instance the four statewide judicial candidates on the ballot this year. Whoever gets elected on Nov. 2 will almost surely serve for life. And if anything has been proven this past year, the courts are our democracy’s last line of defense against ill-willed policies and legislation. When voters don’t turn out to vote, they receive a government that doesn’t represent them.
Consider all the uproar and protests against police officers shooting and ultimately killing unarmed black men and women. Community groups and activists continue to loudly protest and complain about police and community relationships, the lack of accountability in police departments and lack of reform in our criminal justice system.
A lot of these local governments and police departments aren’t responding to these community requests and needs. One could argue it’s because the majority of the community didn’t vote to represent their needs.
Answer these questions: Who hires the police officers? The police chief.
Who hires the police chief? The mayor.
Who hires the mayor? Who elects the council?” The answer is clear — the voters.
It’s easy to forget that local elections matter—frankly, it’s easy to forget that local elections even happen. But there is no such thing as an “off year election.” The news may not cover local/county elections as much, and we aren’t constantly bombarded with negative political ads (this is a good thing!). The chances of any of our local or county candidates being portrayed by Tina Fey, or Alec Baldwin on SNL is pretty much non-existent. However, if you want the potholes on the street in front of your house fixed, concerns about your property taxes, child’s education and/or your trash picked up – you’d better start voting in these local elections
Voting for county and local officials has very real consequences. Congress and Harrisburg may be as unproductive as ever, but the health and prosperity of our communities isn’t determined solely by them. Every eligible and registered voter must turn out to vote on Nov. 2, and every election day for the community to be respected and represented. Let your VOTE be your VOICE on Nov. 2!
Rogette Harris is a political analyst and was the Democratic pundit on PennLive’s Battleground PA.
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