Primaries & Locals Matter: Go Vote
Today is election day in Wisconsin, and I think — think — that puts us up to five this year. Maybe only four. But we’ll be up to six or seven by the end of the presidential election in November, I know that much.
Wisconsin might be the votingest state in the Union this year, in fact! Things to look up for cocktail party small talk.
This promises to be a particularly confusing one, since August 14 is also the day that most low-priced yearly rents, especially the ones in the University area, end in Madison. I know more people that are moving today than people who aren’t, at least in the 20-29 age bracket. Happily, those leases do usually run through August 14, so for the most part everyone should be eligible to vote at their usual polling place.
(If you’re not sure where yours is, check here. If you’re not sure whether you’re eligible, go anyway, bring some ID and if possible some proof of residence like a lease agreement or utility bill, and worst-case scenario cast a provisional ballot.)
This one isn’t a big marquee election but it is an important one. There’s primaries for Senate and House races, and this is Wisconsin, so you can vote in either the Democratic or Republican primary for each race (but not both at the same time). Since most of the races this year are only contested on one party’s side, that means you can impact just about every final match-up.
I’m shamelessly partisan in the race for Wisconsin’s 2nd Congressional District, which is probably the most interesting one on the ballot for Madison residents today — I had the good fortune to work for candidate Kelda Helen Roys in her Assembly office last winter, and I certainly think she’s the lady for the job. But even if you disagree I’d rather have you out there voting than staying home.
Primaries matter a lot. When people complain about how “there’s no good candidates” or “you’re voting for the lesser of two evils,” it’s because not enough people bothered to do some research and vote in the primaries.
Don’t vote blindly. The same website I linked above (here again for you) will also give you a sample ballot. That gives you the names of every candidate for every position you can vote in. Take five minutes to Google them. The websites all need to be taken with a grain of salt, to be sure, but they give you a decent idea where each candidate’s priorities lie.
Democracy, like any statistical sampling method, works better when you sample the largest possible portion of the population. You’re unlikely to get a representative democracy that’s actually representative of any common consensus with less than half the eligible voters casting ballots.
So go vote. I’ll wait here.