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September 25, 2023

The vote that counts

A roll of voting stickers. 
Element5 Digital

A roll of voting stickers. 

Control of day-to-day necessities is in the hands of local and state officials and still, people rarely care about who they vote for when it comes to government on a non-federal level. The American people’s general apathy when voting for their most direct representatives is disheartening, especially since these officials are arguably the most accessible members of government.
When the Presidential election rolls around every four years, it is impossible to escape news and opinions on the candidates running for office. People rush to polls to cast their votes, making their mark in electing the most influential office in America. However, when midterm elections occur, people are less dedicated and less interested in exercising their right to vote: “about 60% of the voting-eligible population votes during presidential election years and about 40% votes during midterm elections,” according to 
This coming election day, 34 Senate and 435 House seats are up for election. On a state level, 36 gubernatorial seats, 30 lieutenant gubernatorial seats, 30 attorney general seats and 27 secretary of state seats are left to the will of voters nationwide. Beyond these well-known offices, there are countless local offices, which seem less important, but hold significance in everyday life. Offices such as school boards, municipal governments, ballot measures and mayoral offices.
State-level and local offices hold more power than many realize. As explicitly mentioned in the tenth amendment of the Constitution, any powers not given to the federal government by the Constitution are given to the state to govern. This means that the majority of everyday functions are being fulfilled by non-federal governing bodies. 
Safety is a large portion of the powers that lower levels of government control. Funding for police departments, fire departments and public works goes through local governments, not federal authorities. Even services including sewage, snow removal, public transportation, water systems, infrastructure, signage and roads are all controlled locally or in the state. It is not an unpopular opinion to suggest that the roadways in South Carolina need funding for repairs, and timely ones at that, but is anyone working to make that change or looking to elect people that will listen to the community? 
Essential services such as education, libraries, recreation and historical sites are all also under the blanket of local government. Places that directly influence day-to-day leisure and productivity fall to the mercy of these governments. Many take these public services for granted and do not understand the complex politics that go into the way that they are running. These initiatives boost not only tourism, but also community morale, creating a sense of togetherness that is instrumental in reducing general deviance.
Not to mention, it is the taxes of the people that the government is spending, so it is imperative to make sure it is being used well. Elect someone transparent about what they plan to do with your money and your community. Researching local and state-level candidates should show clear plans and stances on many issues, often including where to direct funds. 
If you want to make a stand, go local! Though it may seem like a small action, it can create a ripple effect for change, and the proper officials will make an impact on your community and beyond. The decisions they make are not only directly affecting your community, but they are easier to contact than federal representatives, making them the first access point in initiating change on a larger scale. Your local and state politicians should be accessible and accountable. They are in elected offices, so they will react and respond for public support. If they are not, it is vital to select someone who will fulfill their duties as a representative of the people. 
If your “local” isn’t around Clemson, you can request an absentee ballot! Information can be found at or your state’s election website.

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