Voting advocacy groups say don’t ignore local elections
Even though local contests typically see lower turnout, groups say they’re just as important as national elections
ATLANTA, Ga. (Atlanta News First) - While municipal elections typically don’t see the same voter turnout as a presidential contest, the impacts of local votes are equally – if not more – important, according to voting advocacy groups.
The New Georgia Project had canvassers out, hitting the streets and reminding voters of that on a door-by-door basis on Tuesday. It was Election Day in Georgia, and an important one with several mayoral and school board seats up for grabs.
“These municipal elections are, if not just as important, more important than the federal races,” said canvasser Elijah Grace. ‘We have mayor, city council and school board races. All of them affect how we live on a daily basis.”
Even with early voting, numbers remained relatively low. The Georgia Secretary of State’s office reported a total of 155,106 people voted early in-person or absentee by mail prior to Election Day. Georgia currently has over 7 million registered voters and around 5.5 million of them had local elections across 122 counties during this cycle.
But in local elections, even small numbers of votes make a difference. New Georgia Project Policy Director Stephanie Ali said that gives voters more power, not less.
“We see decisions in local elections often be decided by as few as 12 votes,” she said. “People sometimes sit at home thinking ‘my vote doesn’t matter.’ Actually, your entire household can completely flip a seat in your local elections, so that should make people feel even more empowered.”
Local elections also determine who will be a city or county’s shepherds of tax dollars and hyper-local policies that affect voters on a more day-to-day basis than policies at the federal level.
“If we’re talking about potholes and speed bumps and school curriculum and shelters in our communities and addressing issues of poverty and homelessness, who ends up on the city council is going to have a lot more to say and do about that than what happens at the federal level,” said Keron Blair, Chief Organizing Officer with the New Georgia Project.
“A lot of money and resources are pumped into big elections,” he added. “That kind of money is not pumped into local elections.”
“Your every day is affected so much more by these people than folks in Washington,” said Ali. “This is where your local tax money goes.”
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