The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.

Scot Scoop News

Editorial: We need to engage in local elections

Polling Station Sign Door / Elliot Stallion / Unsplash / CC-BY-SA
Voting is available through mail or many choose to visit polling stations.

Casting a voice is a demonstration of democracy– a practice utilized by Americans for centuries. Although the notion of democracy has faltered a couple of times in history, the system is still essential and has generally brought adequate outcomes. 

Citizens will generally engage in presidential elections to ensure their new leader is up to par. In fact, the 2020 elections yielded a record-high voter turnout. 

However, only 15 to 27% of eligible voters across the United States cast their ballots in local elections. These local elections can include mayoral and council members– an example is Belmont’s upcoming General Municipal Election on Nov. 8. 

The turnout for local elections is jarringly low. The whole purpose of voting is for someone to use their voice; therefore, the local government’s decisions can represent the county. However, if there’s hardly anyone casting their vote, then the outcome only reflects a small percentage of the population. 

Not only is the outcome a small representation of the residents, but most voters in local elections are of a higher socioeconomic class, with affluent voters having a 30 to 50% higher voting rate. In addition, the data found that a disproportionate number of white voters will engage in the local elections. 

In other words, the Pew Research Center found that most voters in local elections are white, affluent civilians; minorities are basically excluded from the final consensus. The even larger issue is that the ones being excluded often could care less, and they don’t see the same importance in local elections compared to national elections. 

However, just because news channels aren’t broadcasting each ballot doesn’t mean an election is insignificant. These local elections determine policies regarding community services, local infrastructure, and determining land usage – all matters directly affecting the everyday lives of citizens. 

This lack of engagement carries to the state level as well. According to California’s voting statistics, out of the 517,795 people eligible to register to vote in San Mateo County, only 166,405 people voted in the primary elections during the Jan. 2022 election– that’s merely 27% of the residents. 

The tendency to ignore local and state elections is a dangerous habit to build. Every decision made in the provincial election will impact the residents living in that county, which will lead to an impact on the state– a whole chain of decisions that will lead to the impact on the federal vote. 

Every president, state representative in the House or Senate, or Supreme Court Justice had to start from the bottom and work their way to the top. They ran in the local elections as well and then continued rising to the state level and so on until they reached their current positions nationally. 

Complaints against politicians are reasonable because, based on historical patterns, the politician probably did indeed make a mistake. Still, their selection could have been easily prevented if the voters had stopped them in the first place at the local election level. 

A voter’s impact in their local election is overlooked and can sneak up on complaining citizens later. Based on the low engagement of local government voting, citizens who resent current politicians in power probably wouldn’t have voted against them when they first made their debut.  

It’s important to get into the habit of using one’s voice whenever the chance arises. From local elections to state elections, everyone who is legible should flex their muscle of democracy and utilize their vote. 

In the state of California, if someone isn’t legible to vote yet, they can pre-register at 16 or 17 and prepare to vote as soon as they turn 18. Thinking ahead assures they don’t miss the next election cycle. 

For community members eligible to vote, it’s important to realize the impact that local elections can make. It only takes minutes to vote by mail, and the effect could span farther than it may seem. 

Register to vote for the local elections on the San Mateo County website. 

Accessing voting in California’s upcoming elections is convenient through the Online Voter Registration form. Here, pre-voting registration for 16-17 years old is also available. 

Take advantage of this democratic process now and vote. Local and state elections are the building blocks of national elections, and one vote has a deeper impact that can’t be seen on the surface. 

*This editorial reflects the views of the Scot Scoop Editorial Board and was written by Annabel Chia. The Editorial Board voted 11 in support and 1 did not vote.

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About the Contributors
Editorial Staff
The Scot Scoop Editorial Staff strives to maintain reliable reporting while covering the hard-hitting topics that interest our community. Content on Scot Scoop is managed, reviewed, and maintained by the editorial staff using various tools and methods to produce, edit, and publish content daily. Editorial Staff members are Gabrielle Shore, Myles HuErik ChengAnnabel ChiaAimee TeyssierUrvi KulkarniEvan LeongUjala ChauhanCharlotte GordonAlexander MenchtchikovBen RomanowskyJackson SneeringerArianna ZhuEmma GoldmanElizabeth CruzAudrey Finigan, Rachel Alcazar, and Alessandra Tremulis.
Annabel Chia
Annabel Chia, Scot Scoop Features Managing Editor
Annabel Chia (class of 2024) is the Features Managing editor for Scot Scoop and is passionate about creating an impact through journalism. She especially enjoys exploring different elements of multimedia. You'll usually find her cooking, reading, or interning at the San Mateo Daily Journal. To check out her portfolio, click here. Twitter: Annabelchiaa

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The student news site of Carlmont High School in Belmont, California.
Editorial: We need to engage in local elections