The countdown until election day is on and voters like Marianne Heck say people can't underestimate the power of local races. "There's been elections where one vote has made the difference so they need to get out and vote."
Experts say local elections don't typically draw the same energy of presidential races, but Dr. Joe Morris, Political Science Department Chair at Mercyhurst University tells us it should be the other way around. "What goes on in city governments and county governments impacts their life far more on a day-to-day basis, far more than what goes on in Washington, DC."
The county clerk tells us in presidential election years, they usually see about 70% voter turn out, wherein local elections it's often more like 30%. Doug Smith, Erie County Clerk, tells us, "Local elections really do matter in the scheme of things; more so than in a lot of ways a president or a senator or a representative."
He says those offices matter, but might not be as integral in the community as we think. "Those are the folks who you know make the broad policies, but the micro policies are the ones that come from these smaller groups."
And since the turn out is typically lower in local elections, experts say each ballot holds, even more, weight, with the deciding factor in many races coming down to just a few votes. Morris says, "If you're one of those people who believes their vote doesn't matter, let me assure you that you're absolutely wrong."
Smith also says this year may draw a different crowd than previous local election years, given the energy behind this year's mayoral race. But, in general, experts say using your right to vote is crucial to see change on a local, state and national level.
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