Why Voting in Local Government Matters

 

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19 year old CSUN student and Republican candidate Justin Clark will be in the June runoff after placing narrowly in second behind Democrat Jessie Gabriel. The voter turnout for the primaries was only 8.25 percent. Photo by Ethan Hanson

 

Northridge, Calif- On April 3rd, there were three assembly district primaries in the Greater Los Angeles area and the top two vote getters from each race would face off in a runoff election in June.

Yet with the future of California at stake, the primaries did not draw even a glimpse of attention by the general public. Only 8.23 percent of eligible voters turned out and less then 100 people reported into some precincts according to voting clerks in Chatsworth.

Is it the lack of publicity around local politics, is it time or has voting become a minuscule in the bigger picture of civic duty?

Regardless, the trend itself is troubling given the multiple issues that face the state. From the homelessness crisis that has seen the San Fernando Valley streets littered with people who have fallen on hard times and suffer from alcoholism and drug use to the endless rise in the cost of living. Not to mention the homelessness crisis that has not only strangled the people of California, but its college students as well. 1 in 10 CSU students are homeless and 1 in 5 deal with hunger insecurity.

If voters want to see these trends change and start seeing results, then it up to them to make that change. Change happens by participating in elections and being politically active.

That does not mean every voters needs to become a watch hawk over every candidate, but it does mean investing in local news and being aware of the people within their community. One example is Justin Clark who at 19 years old and being the lone Republican on the 45th Assembly District primary took second place. He may be the answer that the state needs given his youth and his main stance is fiscal accountability. But then again, he may not.

Voters did not know about Matt Dababneh who resigned due to alleged misconduct with women. Yet he still was elected. People have a right to know about who their candidates are and what they represent, but it takes a little bit of digging. In the age of instant gratitude and 30 second attention spans, that work might be a little much for some people.

But if we don’t take those extra steps to learn what our government is, then by ourselves we are setting up to fail. By voting by party reference as opposed to a candidate’s character, or even worse; not voting at all.

It seems ironic as well that the people whose outcry is heard the loudest are the people who did not take the time to cast a ballot. Voting is a responsibility that we all must share. As CSUN Associated Students Vice President Zahraa Khuraibet said while trying to get students to vote in her own election:

“Americans treat voting as almost a joke while there are people in other countries from around the world who die fighting in the streets for this right,” Khuraibet said.

What a concept. As for the estimated 60 voters who turned up for the 45th primary, turns out every ballot mattered.

Sources: Cal Poly Student Affairs

Written by Ethan Hanson

 

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