The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University

The Reflector

Importance of local elections is on par with presidential race

The day we have all been waiting for has finally arrived: Election Day. 

 I think it is safe to say that this year’s presidential election has consumed our thoughts and worries as much as it has consumed social media and the national news.  

This is a day when many college students will vote for the first time. A day when citizens can voice their opinion on a national political stage. A day many of us think of as the final nail in the coffin of  an extremely memorable 2016 election season. 

A day which, to many people’s surprise, will determine a host of legislation and political offices that extend far beyond the White House. 

Unfortunately, it is far too common for individuals to show up to vote on election day completely unaware of additional offices or referendums on the line. 

I have seen many students on campus struggle over which presidential candidate to support, but hardly ever do I hear discussion concerning individuals running for the open House of Representative seats or Supreme Court Justice vacancies in Mississippi. 

Although the office of the president is a position that should not be chosen lightly and will have serious implications on society in the coming years, I would argue that the implications of  local and state elections are just as impactful on the daily lives of citizens, if not more so. 

So if I can catch you before you cast your ballot, I urge you to take a moment to inform yourself on the various offices that will lie below the presidential candidate options on the ballot today. 

All four seats in the U.S. House of Representatives are up for re-election.  Depending on what party will gain the majority of seats in the House this year could have lingering implications on the policies supported by the president elect. 

Ensuring your opinion is voiced regarding the direction of our nation demands not only consideration of presidential qualifications and policy standpoints, but a review of your state’s congressmen as well. 

Also on the ballot in Mississippi are four State Supreme Court seats up for election.  Although one spot is uncontested, these districts will have the opportunity to elect four justices to fulfill an eight year term on the bench. 

Even though Mississippi judicial elections are nonpartisan, according to Mississippi Today, the Central district has experienced a highly politicized campaign between the two Supreme Court candidates. 

Many of these candidates represent different stances on how the law should be interpreted. So not only should you be concerned about appointments to the U.S. Supreme Court, you should carefully consider who you want interpreting law at the state level for the next eight years. 

Many states are not only electing officials today, but voting on referendums concerning a range of issues. According to National Public Radio four states will vote on whether marijuana will be permitted for medical treatment in the state and another five states will decide if it can be used recreationally. 

Four states will vote on the issue of minimum wage with NPR pointing out that two of these will also be deciding whether to require employers to provide paid sick leave. 

California is voting on whether to reform their current death penalty rules to speed up the process or get rid of it altogether. Two other states are also determining whether to reinstate or reform their death penalty sanctions. 

Even if you do not live in a state where these issues are being decided, it is important to watch the results because they could set a precedent for surrounding states. 

Being an informed voter requires more consideration than just pondering which presidential candidate to support every four years. State officials and referendums can directly impact the daily lives  of individuals within the state and community. 

Not only is it important to vote in this election, but it is crucial to continue to exercise your right to vote in both upcoming local and mid-term elections. places the average voter turnout rate at 60 percent among the eligible voting-aged population. However, this number drops significantly during midterm elections. 

In 2014, Mississippi was ranked second to last in voter turnout with only 28.9 percent of the eligible population voting.  

I urge you, even though this election season may have you eager to leave political discussions far behind, do not take for granted your right to vote in elections other than just the presidential race. 

The implications of those elected in other offices are far reaching and a 28.9 percent voter turnout simply does not accurately depict the majority’s stances on important issues. 

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The Student Newspaper of Mississippi State University
Importance of local elections is on par with presidential race