Reasons To Vote Local – a Public Service Announcement

We’re going to try something a little different for the last post of the week. Instead of a final headline round-up, we’re instead wrapping things up with a treatise on why getting out to vote in this year’s “off-cycle” elections is so important.

The timing of this is particularly important. For the very first time, New York now has early voting. The window for you to cast your ballot starts TOMORROW and runs through Nov. 3. (Election Day proper is Nov. 5).

Anyone who is registered to vote is eligible to cast an early ballot. For more information about WHERE you can exercise this new right – which comes compliments of the state Legislature and Gov. Andrew Cuomo as part of an election reform package approved this past session – contact your local Board of Elections.

The procedure for casting a ballot has not changed. Oh, and also, you can only vote once.

So now that we’ve gotten the procedural stuff out of the way, we move on to the WHY part of this post. Why should you vote this year – other than the fact that it is, in this humble editor’s opinion – your civic duty? Nicole Lemperle Correia explains…

This election cycle includes several local positions in New York State – county legislators, town board members, county executives, coroners, highway superintendents – you can get the full rundown on the positions open and who will be on your ballot at www.vote411.org.

But why does it matter to vote in these local elections? So many reasons.

1) Big shifts often start with Local Laws. Think microbead bans, the age of legal tobacco purchase, plastic bag bans, styrofoam laws, animal cruelty laws, recycling policies, and more – much more.

Local laws feed into state laws which can lead to national shifts.

2) Your vote really really matters. Your local officials can set the tone. County executives, mayors, local legislators, town supervisors, district attorneys – they all have the power to shape a community, set priorities, and steer the direction of their region. It matters who gets elected to these positions, and with typically low turn-out in local elections, those positions often get decided by just a few votes.

3) Local government is accessible to anyone. Change starts at the local level, and it’s not hard to get involved – go to a town board meeting, watch a video from the latest city council meeting, serve on a village committee, read about the local laws and resolutions that are up for a vote.

4) Your local government impacts more than you can imagine. From road repair to social services, from affordable housing to taxes, from veterans services to environmental and energy issues, from land use to public health.

Have you taken a peek at how your local officials are behaving online? Twitter behavior can reveal a lot, both positive and negative. Decide how you want to be represented. Take a stand. Use your voice. Don’t let your vote go to waste.

Local government is the place where elected officials and their constituents inhabit the same communities. It’s easy to shrug and say “eh, these elections don’t matter.”

But in some ways, they matter even more. Cast your vote for who you trust to make the decisions that will shape your community, your hometown, and the places that are part of your everyday life.

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