Someone has said, and I’ve repeated it something like a million times, “elections have consequences.” The follow-up to that statement probably should be something like, “and you can have a great impact on whether those consequences are good or bad. How? By engaging in elections in a meaningful, productive way!”
This is a big election year for us in Wisconsin. We start with our spring nonpartisan elections. Our spring elections are mostly about local government. Tuesday, February 15, is the primary for the spring elections. Voters could see races for mayors, city council members, town/village supervisors, school boards, county boards, municipal judges, circuit court judges and appellate judges. This spring, we have no statewide race like we’ve had the last several years with either a state supreme court race or last year for state superintendent of public instruction.
The first step in impacting the consequences of elections is to know when they are happening and then to know what and who will be on the ballot. No later than next Tuesday, January 25, the state’s voter website myvote.wi.gov, that’s myvote.wi.gov, will have sample ballots available for all municipalities. In the meantime, however, you can find out from your own municipal clerk the basic information you need—who and what will be on your primary ballot. I’ve noticed, too, that some counties have election information available right now on their websites. Take the initiative; get started now.
Once you know who is running for the various offices you will be voting for, find out what the candidates believe. Where do they stand on the issues important to you. How do you do that? Check out their websites or Facebook pages. Most all serious local candidates have, at a minimum, a website. Talk to people who know the candidates and issues. Call the candidates and ask questions. Attend panels, forums, and debates. Check with your community cable station to see if they are sponsoring a candidate forum.
Once you get all the information you need, share it. Talk to friends and family members, people in your church, people in your sphere of influence. Let them know about the election and about the issues and candidates. Put the information in a spreadsheet or some format that allows you to send it out by email or to print it and distribute it. When you help people get informed before they vote, you are definitely helping to control the consequences of elections.
The next level of impacting the election consequences is to help candidates that share your values. Volunteer to make phone calls, to organize get-out-the-vote efforts, to knock on doors, to distribute literature, to hold meet-and-greets. Give the candidates money. If we want good people elected so that we get good consequences from elections, we can’t just hope that happens or let someone else do it, we have to be actively involved in helping good candidates in a variety of ways.
Another important way to be part of determining the consequences of elections is to organize a get-out-the-vote effort. This doesn’t have to be done through a candidate or a candidate’s campaign. This can be as simple as getting people in your church to help you call through your church directory on the Friday and Saturday or even Monday before the election, with a simple message of, “I’m just calling to remind you we have an election this Tuesday. If you haven’t already voted, please make sure to do that on Tuesday. If you need a ride to the poll, feel free to call me. I can help you with that.”
Be creative. Utilize technology. Involve others. For instance, send election reminder text messages or emails to your friends and family members. Ask your pastor to remind people about the election and the importance of voting by making an announcement from the pulpit on the Sunday before the election and by including such a reminder in email communications.
Local elections are typically low voter turnout elections. What that means is it doesn’t take a lot of effort or a lot of people to make a profound difference in who wins these races.
All elections have consequences. Local elections are no exception. Just think about what’s been happening with Wisconsin school boards this past year. What we’ve been witnessing are the consequences of the elections that put people in decision-making seats. The truth is we can be difference-makers when it comes to the consequences of elections by being knowledgeable and involved—by caring enough to do everything we individually can to not only cast our own vote responsibly, but by helping others do the same thing. Are you ready to do what you can to ensure good consequences come from this spring’s elections?
This is Julaine Appling for Wisconsin Family Council reminding you the Prophet Hosea said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.”
We Advocate, Educate, And Network To Preserve Wisconsin Family Values!