State and local elections impact our daily lives in countless ways. From determining how much funding our schools receive, to whether we invest in employment programs, to how we handle police misconduct, these elections impact our communities in ways our national elections never could.
Yet voter turnout for local and state elections is notoriously low. One major reason why?
We just don't have enough information.
According to a study by the National Civic League, "lower turnout is frequently a result of a lack of awareness of the candidates and issues." We've probably experienced this ourselves. For example, chances are that you can name the candidates from our most recent national election — if not multiple national elections — along with a few policies they stood for. Yet many of us struggle to do the same for our local candidates.
This isn't because we're lazy, but because state and local information can be a lot harder to come by. That's why we believe that voter guides, particularly the candidate information they provide, are essential tools that every American deserves access to.
You can find voter guides for hundreds of state and local elections on our one-stop election resource, VOTE411. The guides were designed to make it easy to click from candidate to candidate and compare their experience, stances, and affiliations.
By looking at the voter guides, you'll find out:
- How candidates plan to respond to issues like climate change, affordable housing, and criminal justice;
- Whether they have experiences with institutions that matter to you, like public service, nonprofits, or the military;
- What values guide their decisions, like diversity, the right to education, or religious beliefs.
While hundreds of candidates have recognized the need for these guides and shared their information with VOTE411, some still haven't.
This must change. If candidates expect people to vote for them, they should make it easy to learn what they stand for. When they don't make their views clear or prioritize connecting with their communities, one has to wonder why.
By filling out the VOTE411 guides, they also promote state and local elections by making it easier to get informed. Imagine how much simpler past local elections would have been if thorough guides had been provided by every candidate!
By this point, you may have checked out one of the three videos we've shared on this page. We created these videos to make more people aware of their voter guides — and to push candidates to fill them out if they haven't already!
We encourage you to share these videos with your communities so they feel more empowered in their state and local elections. Their voices deserve to be heard; by sharing one video, you can help them do so.
If you search for your voter guide and find that some candidates haven't contributed, let them know that they need to! We recommend tagging them when you share these videos on social media, and politely asking them to be more transparent.
If your candidates care about the communities they want to lead, they'll recognize that voter guides are crucial. You deserve them; let's demand them.