This year has been largely dominated by the talk about the upcoming presidential election.
Ashley Rodriguez, a first year psychology major at Kendall Campus, has not registered to vote. However, she plans to only vote in the general presidential election, saying: “I am more prone to vote in the presidential elections rather than the local elections, because there’s been so much media coverage on the candidates, and I feel like I know nothing about my own district.”
This problem is common among millennials as we face an election year; we become too preoccupied with the media circus that has become our presidential election to even pay attention to local matters.
The lack of voter turnout for local elections has become so dire that, according to The New Tropic Online, only 20 percent of South Floridians eligible to vote actually voted in local elections.
There may be some reason behind the hesitation to participate in local politics. Some reasons may be as simple as ignorance of the issues or the fact that local government does not have the “impact” that federal government does.
Zoe Henderson, a freshman English major at Kendall Campus, said: “I’m not completely turned off by local government, but I feel that real change stems from the representatives in the federal government, not at the state level.”
Many voters don’t realize that those elected to our local governments can influence issues that directly affect us. Low voter turnout, specifically from young voters, sends a message to their local officials that representation in Congress is not important. Not voting in local elections is indicative of not voting for the issues that affect us most, and unfortunately, representatives will not ‘represent’ a group of voters that does not support them.
To make changes that will impact us, we need to begin within our community; specifically, with our local representatives. These representatives determine how the budget is proportioned, and not voting means that issues specific to your identity will not be of any concern to the local government.
One of the most highly debated issues in Florida has been the implementation of statewide standardized testing. Whether you agree with the use of Common Core in Florida, state representatives are the ones who decided whether or not public schools are mandated to base their entire core curriculum around passing the exam. These laws could largely impact our lives as students, yet we rarely ever have a voice in the matter.
Many students are unaware that profound change actually begins at the local level. Voting for the representative of your district is the key to supporting these changes. Thousands of people are denied the right to vote; yet we take this insanely powerful advantage for granted.