November 1, 2018
Many people have asked me, “Why should I vote? My vote does not count!” Before we answer that question, let’s ask a few questions about key community concerns.
Are you worried about police misconduct? Are you concerned about the large number of Black males and females in prison? Are you worried about the quality of education that our children are receiving?
If you answer “yes” to any of these questions, you may want to think again about the value of your vote.
Now, if you only focus on national elections, then it is not easy to understand what your vote is worth. A Presidential election involves millions of voters. It is easy to believe that one vote is unimportant. Local elections are a completely different situation. The election of a city’s mayor or city council involves far fewer voters which mean that your vote now carries more weight!
If you are worried about police brutality, then you should be sure to vote in your Mayoral and City Council elections. The Mayor and City Council typically control the police budget. They also appoint the City Manager. If you city does not have a police department but has a Sheriff instead, the Sheriff may also be an elected official. By voting you will help to determine the leadership of your police or sheriff department. This will decide what policies are followed by that department. These policies include influence key issues such as “use of force” and “profiling”.
If you are concerned about the large number of African-Americans in prison, then you will want to pay attention to the legal and court systems. Judges who sit in the courts may be elected or appointed by government officials. Your vote in city (municipal) and state elections will determine who will make the laws that greatly impact our community.
Finally, if you are worried about the quality of education, then it is time to pay attention to your local school board. The school board manages the budget. It determines what will be taught and how it will be taught. It also sets policies on discipline and school security. School board members are elected, and once again your vote counts.
Unlike national elections, local and municipal elections have a much smaller voter turn-out. Mayoral, City Council, Sheriff, Judge and School Board elections are often determined by a few 1,000 or even a few 100 votes. Compared to a national election, your vote is now much more valuable and counts for more. In other words, it is worth a lot.
Voting is a right that many in our community have fought for. Voting is how we pick the people who will create and enforce our laws. Most people I know want to help their communities. Voting is the cheapest and easiest way to help. Please vote, the community you save may be your own.
Kevin Martin is a black entrepreneur in Los Washington, DC area who grew up in Riverside and who is interested in discussing specific actions for improving the black community. Comments can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org. This account receives a great deal of spam so be sure to include this article’s title or blackvoicenews in your subject line.