This fall, most voters will be paying close attention to the presidential election. However, voters have to remember that the presidency is not the only office up for re–election this November. Down the ballot, there will be many close races, including in the Senate, which could very easily flip a Republican majority to a Democratic majority. During the election season, it is also important to attend to other offices besides the White House.
The Senate is an important battleground, with a large number of contested seats. Twenty-four Republican Senate seats are on the line. The Cook Political Report ranks seven as either Democratic–leaning or a toss-up. Any of these seats could go to Democrats, who have a chance to take back the Senate. The Senate’s influence is crucial. Even if Hillary Clinton does not win the presidency, a Democratic Senate would have say over the appointments of Supreme Court justices and a host of other powerful positions. Democrats disillusioned by the presidential nominees should still make sure to vote for the Senate.
Beyond federal offices, local elections are vital, too. State, county or town elections can also be contested. These offices might not have the same scale of impact as the president, but at a local level, they make a big difference. A town school board can determine new school programs. Mayors might manage the police and fire departments. These are just a few of the everyday functions in our communities that are decided by local elections.
Not only do local elections affect citizens directly, but residents also have the chance to influence local government. While a U.S. Senate office could get hundreds of calls per day, citizens can easily present their opinions and ideas directly to town government officials. For example, earlier this month a gun range in Dalton Township, Michigan, was closed after residents complained to the town about stray bullets. Without being notified by residents, the town would not have known to take action against the shooting range. Considering how close to the people a local representative is, we should be paying much closer attention to who is filling those seats.
These local elections might seem less exciting than the presidential race, but voters should not forget that these crucial contests exist. The Senate could impact the direction of the country, and local races have an effect on our own communities.