By Kristin Shields
Well, ladies and gentlemen, it is primary day! The day where excited citizens across the state of Maryland speak out in favor of the candidates with whom the identify the most. It is the day that everyone looks forward to in the spring time, their chance to exercise their constitutional freedom of speech on the most basic and fundamental level.
Okay, maybe they aren't that excited, and maybe its not that big of a deal to a lot of people, but I think it should be. This year, we are voting for our presidential candidates as well as our state and local officials, both republicans and democrats alike. All too often, people go to the polls and recognize their favorite presidential candidates immediately; however, by the time they make their way through the ballot to the county council and school board, they have no idea who anyone is. The lack of information surrounding elections and candidates on the local level results in a cycle that often results in unqualified candidates holding the positions that most closely impact our day-to-day lives.
You will not find me judging, I am guilty of the same thing sometimes. Whereas races on the national level are constantly shoved in your face - how many times did you hear about the Romney v. Santorum bickering and the Rick Perry v. Newt Gingrich gaffes? - local level races are far more discreet to the point that no one knows who is running unless you happen to know the person from your church or gym. People do not want to take the time to search for information or go out of their way to attend the not-so-publicized local political gatherings when they could be spending their well-earned time off with family and friends.
As a purple elephant, I really hope that this can change. Local politics have an incredibly strong impact on your daily life, a fact that most people do not realize. Your State Senators and Delegates are the ones that draft and sponsor legislation that result in higher or lower taxes, licensing and regulations, and so much more. County Council members decide local legislation, such as land use and zoning (which sounds boring but this impacts traffic patterns, living conditions, and much more). School board members impact the quality of schools in your district, which directly impacts your childrens' education.
I urge you, before you vote, to look into the candidates on your ballot. Whether you are a democrat or a republican, take the time to look into these candidates and make sure you know who you are voting for today.
This was my first year voting in person. Call me a political nerd, but I was smiling from ear to ear when I walked into my polling place. I think they could tell I was a newbie, because they asked me if it was my first time voting. I said yes, in person (I am in college so I voted absentee in my first election), and I was given a round of applause. Needless to say, I was thrilled. It made me feel excited to be able to exercise my right to vote. I hope you are just as excited when you go to vote today. Your vote counts; use it!
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