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Article #6 in a series of articles about the 2022 midterm elections, brought to you by the League of Women Voters Minneapolis.
MY VOTE. WHAT DOES IT MATTER?
We’re often encouraged to vote. “It’s important. It’s our duty. It makes a difference.” But really what does it matter? How does my vote affect me? Actually, our one vote affects an outcome directly only when we’re voting on amendments, like the three on last year’s ballot. Instead, what our vote really does is elect a PERSON to represent us, a person whose vote in Congress or the Legislature reflects our wishes. That’s why we have to examine candidates thoroughly beforehand to see that their views correspond to what we need and want.
For example, if we’re interested in public safety, we’ll want to know a congressional candidate’s attitude toward gun violence and qualified immunity. How they vote on our behalf may give us better (or sometimes worse) protection.
How do prospective state legislators feel about training for police? Are they willing to help fund it adequately?
Where do the sheriff and county attorney stand on law enforcement? Will strict enforcement -- or more lax enforcement -- make us feel safe? What is their attitude toward justice?
Many people are similarly concerned about taxes. Will we benefit more if we pay less and have more money in our pockets? Or will we benefit more with better services – like safe roads or good schools? How will legislators use the money that the federal government has set aside for Minnesota?
What about access to abortion services in Minnesota. Candidates for the legislature need to know our views and vote as we, their constituents, believe.
Low-cost housing is another issue facing law makers. We may gain from knowing we won’t be evicted. We may benefit from government subsidies. We may rejoice at finding just the right home at an affordable price, thanks to government funding or policy – based again on our votes.
And, of course, we all benefit if votes are fairly counted and secure. Our choice of legislators who uphold voting access and safety is essential.
On a more personal level, voting affects our attitudes. By voting we are taking an interest in the issues around us and feel good about doing our duty as citizens. We can take pride in being part of a democracy, a privilege to be sure.
So, during this election season, vote as if your future depends on it. It does.