As the calendar creeps closer to November 3rd, voters are making their decisions on their vote for the next U.S. President. Your choice of candidate to lead this country is important, but what about the other races and amendments on your ballot? Are you voting all the way down your ballot, or simply filling in the bubble next to your presidential choice? A vote in every election down your ballot ensures that you make your voice heard—here’s why.
Aside from the presidential candidates, voters are asked to make other crucial decisions. Decisions on issues like abortion rights, tax rates, and environmental concerns in their districts. These subjects are often further down or even on the backside of ballots and can go unchecked by voters who are mainly focused on the first box.
Your vote matters every time for every issue. Make your voice heard in every matter, not just the race for presidency.
Down The Ballot
These ones you’ve heard already. They’re the first boxes of representatives on your ballot. They include the presidential, senate, and congressional candidates. The importance of your opinion and vote for these representatives cannot be overstated.
My fellow millennials and first-time voters, I speak almost directly to you when I say this. Your vote matters.
In 2019, States of Change, a nonpartisan research group, conducted a study to understand shifts in the electorate. According to Ronald Brownstein, by 2020, “Millennials (born, according to the organization’s definition, from 1981 to 2000) will constitute 34.2 percent of eligible voters [in 2020]… [and] Post-Millennials (born after 2000) will make up another 3.4 percent.” This means that in the 2020 election, young voters will “virtually equal the share of eligible voters composed of Baby Boomers (28.4 percent) and the Silent and Greatest Generations (another 9.4 percent).”
Young people, if you are still wary of whether your vote truly counts, these numbers are proof that it does. Who you vote for is up to you, but the only way you can make your voice heard is to vote.
State and Local Representatives
Local politics is where it’s at. Don’t neglect them! The people you elect to positions like state senator and state representatives will speak on your behalf on issues in your daily life. The state and local elected officials are “more accessible to you, and are more likely to be the ones that work with you through situations where the government can help,” says Rachel Hill, community outreach and engagement manager for Equality in Texas.
“We feel the impact of all levels of government, but the further “down ballot” you go, the more you’ll see that impact in your day to day existence, from highway construction to police budgets, ID laws to school curriculum.” – Rachel Hill.
Issues like the very process of becoming a voter can be determined by who we elect to local offices. TEDxMileHigh Rise speaker Amber McReynolds believes voter registration needs to be collectively simplified. “In the age of Amazon Prime, why is voting so confusing?” says McReynolds. Stay tuned, her TEDxMH will be released soon.
Amendments and Propositions
Local issues—like whether to reintroduce wolves into Colorado’s ecosystem—are often decided directly by the electorate. You have an opportunity to directly influence amendments to state and federal constitutions and propositions. These decisions can often be felt more directly than the overall outcome of the presidential election.
Yes, the language and overall readability of this section can be confusing. However, Colorado makes it easy to decipher them with the 2020 State Ballot Information Booklet, otherwise known as the “Blue Book.” This book breaks down each State Amendment and Proposition into its pro and con arguments. There’s also the Local Ballot Issue Notice. This resource aids voters in the decisions on ballot issues local to their district.
On the 2020 Colorado ballot, propositions include adding Colorado to the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact. Other important decisions include the protection of public school funding in the state, the legality of abortions, and the establishment of a paid family and medical leave program. These are all incredibly impactful issues that can only be decided on by the people of Colorado themselves. This section is where you can make your voice heard the most. Be sure to do your research and take your time.
If you have yet to make up your mind on any part of your ballot, or you’re confused about the language, here are some resources to help you.
BallotPedia: Type your address into the generator and see a sample of your county’s ballot. There is information on each candidate, as well as explanations on each amendment or proposition you can vote on.
Turbo Vote: This mobile app is a wealth of information for all things voting. From explanations on what will be included on your ballot, to information on receiving an absentee ballot, this app makes voting easy.
Vote.org: Along with a handy countdown to election day, this website allows you to check your registration status, register to vote, and lists all of the information you need to vote either by mail or in person.
Make Your Voice Heard
The right to vote is yours as a citizen of this country. But, if you only vote in one election and skip the rest of the important decisions that make up the rest of your ballot is doing a disservice to yourself and your community. Make your voice heard and vote all the way down your ballot!