Voting Matters for Locally Epic

It’s early November, which means it’s time for some local crank to write an annual letter to the newspaper about voter apathy.

We know the letter by heart. Local elections matter most because that is what affects you the most. And by most, they mean tax dollars. And by tax dollars, they mean how they are spent. And then there is the usual hokum about how our  children’s children will be affected by this vote. Yada, yada, yada.

I have been them reading my entire life. First growing up in Nebraska. Then in my early professional career with stops on in Nashville, Charleston, Myrtle Beach and Florida. Finally, I have been reading them in Yeah That Greenville, South Carolina.

Well, this year, I have opted to be the local crank, but I am going to write you a different  letter. I am not going to write about how 10 percent turnout is pathetic. I am not going to write about democracy and our great nation. I am not going to write about the founding fathers. No, I am going to write, quickly, about why you need to vote locally and then, more importantly, how to increase voter turnout.

So, why vote locally? Because this is Greenville. We have done more. We have accomplished more. We should strive to be a place that votes better locally than anywhere else in America because we strive to be a better place than anywhere else in the country.

And by Greenville, I mean all of Greenville. Not just the City. Not just County offices. I mean all of the cities – Travelers Rest, Greer, Mauldin, Simpsonville, Fountain Inn — located in our 795 square miles. I mean the fire districts. I mean the sewer districts. I mean the school board. I mean anything else where people get elected.

So how do we do it? Read on:

  1. If you have read this far, you likely are already somebody who votes locally. Good. Now, here is what you need to do. Get a pair of scissors. Cut this out of the Journal. Make some copies. Staple them to the doors of the houses of your neighbors, who don’t vote. If you are reading this online, print it out and go straight to step four with the stapling. If your neighbor complains, tell them if they voted in local elections they could help enact law that prevent you from stapling things to their doors. They will look at you strangely. They will vote next time around.
  2. If you are not someone who votes locally, and are still reading this far, I have news for you. Your neighbor is stapling this to your door as you read. Thank them. Then go and vote on Tuesday.
  3. Get social. Yes, there is an election this week in the City of Greenville. You may have decided who you are voting for. More than likely, you have no idea who is running. But if you do know about next Tuesday, tell people to vote. Put it on Facebook. Do a Snapchat. Tweet it. Email your friends. Call them next Tuesday. You don’t have to endorse anyone. Just tell them to vote. Invite them for a beer after work. Tell them it’s a hot new bar called The Voting Place and give them the address of their local polling station. If they show up, they should have ID with them. It’s a win-win.
  4. Get out of your comfort zone. I live off Haywood Road. I see yard signs everywhere. I see signs as I drive to work downtown. You know where I don’t see that many if any? Dunbar. Nicholtown.  Pettigru. White Oak. And many more neighborhoods that aren’t as politically active on the local level this time around. Large neighborhoods where informed voters get to the polls, but everyone else may not even realize what is happening next week. If you have time, go to those neighborhoods. Put up a two-dollar yard signs that says vote on Tuesday. Even if gets five people to vote, that is a difference you made. If 50 people do this, that is 250 votes. All of a sudden, people start to take notice.

The reality is we live in an amazing little slice of our wonderful nation. If we want it to continue to be that kind of place for people of all races, genders, creeds, background and the like, then we must vote locally.