Cast a vote for what matters

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With candidates like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, it is no wonder why the focus is all on them. During election season, however, down-ballot voting is just as important, if not more, as voting for the presidential candidates.

Down-ballot voting is voting for candidates who are running for lower positions, such as local and county government, state representatives and senators. During elections these candidates are often forgotten and the votes are only cast towards the presidential nominees.

The down-ballot candidates represent citizens at a local level and have a big impact on citizens’ day-to-day lives, yet they typically are ignored at the ballot box.

President of College Democrats at UWO Brandon Colligan said people disregard these elections and see them as insignificant because the candidates are running for lower offices and it does not often make headlines.

“It is, however, just the contrary,” Colligan said. “Lower level elections at a state and local level impact you just as much, if not more so than the presidential election.”
By voting down the ballot, you are able to share your opinion on specific issues with a candidate.

“If a local state senator is running, your community’s stance on their issues will directly impact their race and vice versa,” Colligan said. “These local reps can pass policy directly affecting people in your community.”

Colligan gave the examples of road maintenance and public school funding as possible issues candidates may have stances on. A community’s decision on these candidates can make differences in the issues that plague them daily.

Due to a lack of popularity in voting in elections besides the presidential one, it can be hard to know who to choose to vote for. Signs are plastered throughout communities, peaking out behind the giant Trump and “Hillary For Prison,” signs but they are nothing more than a name.

It is important to fully educate yourself on the ideas behind these candidates.

Colligan suggested informing yourself on their past voting record.

“If you are informed on their voting record, you will know how to vote despite any kind of negative stigma surrounding them,” Colligan said. “Educate yourself on what their platform is on the issues you are concerned about.”

As college students, besides the issue of student debt, we may not know exactly what issues should be a top priority for our candidates. Colligan suggested what he sees as the top three issues students should consider during elections.

“One is addressing student loans,” Colligan said. “This requires candidates to want to increase public university funding and be able to refinance student loans.”

Colligan said his other top two issues are modern education and training programs, as well as increased infrastructure spending.

If nothing aggravates you more than how quickly your loans and debt are piling up, or the road you take every day that hasn’t been repaved in years, educate yourself. There are candidates in our local elections that want to do something about these issues.

Sitting at home and not voting or only going to the voting booth to write in Donald Duck isn’t going to solve any of the issues that bother you.

Instead of trying to decide between the lesser of two evils in our presidential race, vote for the other positions on the ballot. The winners of those elections will have a greater effect on your daily lives than whoever ends up in the Oval Office.

Do your community and yourself a favor and vote down the ballot. Do not ignore the other races simply because there isn’t a televised debate you can make a drinking game out of.