Make Your Voting Plan: The Power of Local-level Politics


By: Elisabeth Samson Lee—Fellow, All in Together

Faced with our biggest election yet, it is time to make sure we have our voting plans in place. And a backup plan too because…. 2020.

Voting is the only time every person’s voice holds equal weight, regardless of race, gender, age, income, or life experience. It pays to rise above the national fray—in the news and on social media—and vote for what matters to you. What issues are most critical for you? Whose views align with yours? Who has the power over those issues? What is their track record?

The time taken to research candidates and where they stand on important issues is vital. As an advocate for victims of gender-based violence, and a survivor myself, the importance of local races in our communities cannot be understated.

The county sheriff leads an entire sworn department in the law enforcement for your community. What is their focus? Have they led with integrity? What is the culture for investigating sexual and domestic violence? (More local yet, city councilmembers appoint a police chief who holds these same responsibilities. Check their records, too.)

The county attorney controls the decisions on whom to charge and for what level of crime. They are the ones who prosecute offenders or negotiate plea deals. What is their record of prosecution for the crimes you care about? What types of crimes do they charge most? Least? Do they hold law enforcement officers accountable?

Judges decide who to convict and the ultimate level of punishment for the crime—incarceration, probation, community service, or nothing at all. They determine stay, bail, or release for those awaiting trial in the first place. They also control whether a victim can secure a Domestic Abuse No Contact Order. Do they make safety a priority? Do they consistently hold abusers accountable? What is their conviction rate for gender-based violence offenses?

Many of us feel overwhelmed during this current political maelstrom. But we hold more power than we realize in the votes we cast locally. Do your research. Raise your voice. And exercise that power.

The attention paid does not need to stop on November 3rd. You can civically engage at county board and city council meetings to fight for change and hold these same offices accountable all year long. Every year.

Your voice has no limits.

Your launching pad is your well-researched vote.

Statements on this blog reflect the author’s personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of YWCA Metropolitan Phoenix or YWCA USA. Blog entries are meant to spark individual reflection and community conversations on issues of racial justice and gender equality.