Well ’tis the season and the year of a major presidential election but there are elections happening in every town and county throughout the United States (and I’m sure other countries but I live here). The Iowa caucuses just happened. New Hampshire is coming shortly but primaries continue until the second week of June.
I feel like I can reasonably say this because I have worked in 4 election cycles, besides that experience I also worked for a get out the vote non-profit. I do a little bit know what I am talking about as I say please vote in the primaries. It is so important and a wonderful time to get involved in the political sphere of your community.
Candidates: There are so many candidates who are running for office from any position from Congress to State Legislature to Judges of the Orphan Court to Dog Catcher. There are so many people running for office in every town and city across the country. Candidates during the primary also have more time to talk with members of their party because they aren’t trying to win over independents or just get their name out there. If you want to get to know a candidate the primary is the time to do it.
In true democratic fashion there are so many options to choose from every walk of life and with a different approach for every problem. Sometimes the people I talk to find the number of people that are running overwhelming. There are ways to make it less so. Talk to the candidates. Do your research. There are so many organizations and websites that help to amalgamate the information. My personal favorite is vote411.org which will help you find your polling place and check voter registration. It also publishes the questionnaires candidates fill out so you can read the responses directly.
Community: I think that a lot of people think that when politicans go into the community for photo ops it’s pandering. While this might be true I feel like it’s worth it. Elections at the local and state level raises awareness for local issues that you may or may not know about it. The photo ops for the politicians is free advertisement for local non-profits, for schools, and for those who have come down on hard times.
I also like the coming togetherness of a primary. It is a party (no matter which) having debate about how to best approach the issues. When you get involved early on in election you can meet so many people. Whether they be concerned citizens, candidate, or campaign workers and form a little community of your own. And trust me when I say the relationships that you build during these times will last a really, really long time.
The Future: Mostly you should vote in the primaries because if you can vote you should. As a citizen with the right you should take advantage of it. You should also do it because when you vote you are person that a politician has to care for. The more consistently you vote the more candidates in the primary will work for your issues and to be a candidate that you want.
Secondly, I personally am of the belief that the more someone votes and witnesses a primary. The more friends people make during the primary. The more issues people care about during the primaries. The more likely that one day you will run for office and that’s the whole point of democracy.
So now that I have convinced you go make sure you are registered to vote at your address and find your polling place. Look up your ballot. Go vote!