Social media has been a force to be reckoned with since its creation. People are able to connect with each other from one end of the earth to another with the click of a button.
With so much connection to places near and far, people may tend to forget that change can be enacted within their own local communities.
The digital age has expanded more and more each year which means that breaking news is now mostly consumed online from different social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook especially in younger people. In the last four years, political parties and their differing opinions have been a very heated topic of discussion and the main focus has been the presidential election which is a country-wide issue.
Most people participate in or hear about this general election that happens every four years but fail to realize that primary and local elections exist as well. The lack of involvement and the belief that a single voice doesn’t matter is extremely harmful to local politics and communities.
There is such a widely believed misconception between communities that believe that their single vote won’t matter in the grand scheme of things. However, when multiple people have this same thought, it turns into a multitude of people not casting their votes that could have made a difference.
Elections held in local communities aren’t as widely publicized or advertised on social media as the major presidential elections and therefore, already have less of a turnout. By the time these local elections come around, people either haven’t registered to vote and are unable to participate or can’t take the time to make it out to the polls.
Results of an election in a specific community often don’t accurately represent the values and ideals of the area due to lack of voter participation and voter suppression. Voter suppression is a strategy used by a specific political party to discourage voter participation.
According to usatoday.com, a major way this is demonstrated is strict voter ID rules and certain communities closing many of their polling stations in the area which makes for extremely long lines that many people may not want or have the time to wait in. This strategy is most often utilized in the major elections and mostly affects people of color.
The question that remains is: how can voter turnout be promoted in more local issues?
It’s crucial to advocate and stress the importance of participating in local politics beginning with the youth and using social media to promote it as well.
According to Jan Brennan from the National Civic League, individuals 65 and older are seven times more likely to vote in local elections than voters aged 18 to 34.
Many younger potential voters may feel as if they don’t know enough about the topics of discussion and aren’t highly motivated to educate themselves about them especially with so many other things being taught to them. A lot of these people feel they can’t have a valid opinion and use this as an excuse to not vote.
If the significance of local elections was constantly embedded in the curriculum as something extremely valuable throughout their time in the education system and beyond, more people may be inclined to get involved and make it a priority as soon as they hit the voting age.
Social media and the internet in general are an excellent tool that can have some influence on future voters especially if it’s utilized through a curriculum they’re already legally meant to go through.
If people are continuously shown that the solutions to the bigger issues they constantly come across all over social media can begin right in their own communities, participation in local politics may increase for the greater good.