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Local Elections are More Important and Less Visible

In Business, Economy, Local News, Media, National News, Opinion, Politics, State News, Uncategorized on January 24, 2012 at 1:03 pm

By Gery L. Deer

Deer In Headlines

Over the next ten months, the American people will be bombarded with campaign propaganda from all sides. From local races to the push for the White House, billions will be spent in 2012 to persuade voters to flip the lever in favor of one over the others.

Meanwhile, down onMain Street, local campaigns are underway relatively unnoticed almost until the day of the election. Voters often report on exit polls that they know little or nothing about local candidates and make selections based on name recognition alone, with no real basis for the choice.

So why don’t people take as much of an interest in local politics as they do in the national elections? In my opinion, there are several reasons for this, the first being flat out laziness.

Most people are exposed to the daily media barrage of national campaign information, although its accuracy is always in question. But there is almost no coverage of local candidates and virtually no direct resource for voters to learn about them.

Ask someone on the street about local council members or county commissioners and it’s unlikely they can name even one of them. Most people can’t name their state representative.

Some say they simply don’t care about the local races citing relevance to their lives. But, regardless of someone’s view of politics it will still affect them – especially on the local level.

Unfortunately, information about local and state candidates can be a challenge. Voters can usually find a variety of information about state or national elections on the Internet, but, without knowing the names of local candidates that option may be unrevealing.

It may be necessary to do a little legwork in order to obtain details about open government seats and candidates for those jobs. A good place to start is the local board of elections.

The boards of elections offer resources for local races and are positioned based on the region. It may be named by county, city or district, depending on the area and most can provide the most current and complete information about the various races on the November ballot. It may take some time to figure out exactly who to speak to for the right information, but most have a chairperson or board president to begin with, and then work down the list of committee members from there.

Another resource is the local League of Women Voters office. Not only will they have information on each and every race, they usually publish a voter’s guide available to anyone. In addition, most league offices offer a representative who can come out to speak to other concerned organizations such as service clubs or business groups. Information about all possible sides of issues campaigns is provided.

For those who tend to lean on party lines, the local precinct office can provide ballot information, but for their side only. Any issue information will likely be written towards the party line as well. So if balanced, neutral information is important this may not be the best option.

As antique an option as it might seem to the younger crowd, the local library can also be an invaluable source of information about local candidates and issues. Newspaper archives, free Internet access and the reference personnel can offer great benefits unavailable to someone doing the research alone on the home computer.

Business owners concerned about how candidates and issues affect their future in today’s economy might want to contact the area chambers of commerce. Sometimes the chamber will have already assembled any information that may have an affect on their members, including the repercussions of certain candidates being elected. Be aware, again, that there may be a politically-motivated slant to the information but it’s generally in favor of small business development.

These are only a few of the potential resources available to voters where they can learn more about the candidates and issues affecting them on the local level, where the real work is done. Clearly, the point to take away here is that it is up to the individual to educate themselves on those elections that most affect their lives.

Gery L. Deer is an independent business writer and columnist based in Jamestown, Ohio. More at http://www.deerinheadlines.com.