All Politics Are Local, Even In An Off Year

Today is Election Day again, the “Tuesday next after the first Monday in the month of November”.  Time to make your voices heard, my friends.

It’s an off year; in many states there’s not much to vote on.  In fact, according to BallotPedia, today there’s fewer statewide ballot measures offered than in any year since 1947.  There are two states with gubernatorial races (New Jersey and Virginia) and the same two have legislative elections.

Apart from the Virginia governor’s race, there’s very little press attention given to this year’s vote.  Presumably, there’s other topics that are far sexier; there’s still an orgy of disaster stories left over from the weekend, for example.  Then too, the events currently unfolding in Saudi Arabia are definitely worthy of our attention, even though we can’t quite seem to figure out what’s really going on.

But I for one am of the opinion that, even in on off year, the free and full exercise of our right to vote is of vital, even of critical importance to the functioning of American democracy.  And, because the media’s been distracted, most of you (at least those who don’t live in New Jersey or Virginia) are probably unaware of what’s worth voting on in your state or municipality.  So here’s a quick (but not exhaustive) breakdown:

Texas:

There are seven Legislatively-Referred Constitutional Amendments proposed in Texas this year.  Some may seem minor — there’s a provision to allow banks to give away prizes in order to promote savings — but on the other hand there’s a measure to permit partially disabled veterans to deduct the value of certain donated items from their taxes.  Considering the cost of prostheses, this is vital.

Maine:

In addition to the usual transportation bond measure, there’s two that have been brought in by petitions: casino gambling authorization and extending Medicare for the ACA.  There’s something else I honestly can’t figure out about pensions; if you live in Maine and understand this, please post it in the Comments.

New Jersey:

Sure, there’s a governor’s race, and you’re electing a new legislature, but who really cares?  Nah; the important issue is the bond issue for library grants.  There’s also a law about environmental issues from payouts; since the entire state is basically one vast SuperFund site, this is probably important too.  (I’m kidding about the legislature and governor, by the way.)

Pennsylvania:

You’ve got one ballot issue, which is an authorization for local governments to issue exemptions for some property taxes.  Given the multiple levels of local government in Pennsylvania, this probably makes sense.  (Someone remind me again what the difference is between a borough and a township.)

Ohio:

There’s a proposed Marsy’s Law amendment; if you live in Ohio, this should be important to you.  Of importance to everyone in and outside of the state is the second issue, which attempts to set a state standard for prescription drug prices — it’s limited in scope, but it’s still a powerful issue.  I cannot imagine living in Ohio and staying home today.

West Virginia:

Transportation bond issue.  A fellow whose opinion I respect with regard to construction and funding policy once advised me to always back these.  I’m not sure I entirely agree, but then that’s my right — and yours.

Washington:

If you live here, you’re probably used to being asked your opinion on things the legislature has done the previous year.  I won’t say nobody cares how you vote on these, but it’s true that there’s no direct power to change a law based on the results.  Still, it’s a chance to make your voice heard.

New York:

Two interesting petition referendum questions, one on convicted cops and the other on a forestry reserve.  The big one is a New York State curiosity:  Every twenty years, citizens are required to choose whether or not to hold a Constitutional Convention.

Utah:

Jason Chaffetz resigned in the middle of his term, presumably from sheer embarrassment, and instead signed a lucrative deal with Fox News.  His seat’s up for election; this is one to watch, people.  If the Republican contender doesn’t win, it’ll be for the first time in decades.

Alabama:

Your Senate race isn’t until December 12th.  Good luck.

Virginia:

Governor, Lt. Governor, Attorney General, House of Delegates — this is a big day for y’all.  Vote early; vote often.


In addition to all the above, there’s a zillion local races.  If you care about education, don’t even worry about DeVos; there’s school board seats left open across the country because people don’t care enough to serve.  City council races and those for county commissioner are often unopposed; judges, mayors, and even sometimes (God help us) sheriffs are elected officials.

You can check out what’s on your local ballot here.  (Remember:  Some districts have absolutely nothing this time around.)

Remember:  All politics are local.  If you’re upset about the way things are going in this country — or, on the contrary, if you’re profoundly satisfied — you have the right to take action.  You have the power to vote, and if it’s something you care deeply enough about you have the right to stand for office.  That’s nothing minor, people; it’s huge.  In Saudi Arabia, you have to be a royal in order to have a voice in the government; here, everyone has that ability.

And with great power comes great responsibility.

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