With the 2016 presidential election dominating national media coverage, it was almost easy to forget that there was an election this week. The polls had been open for three hours when I received my “I Voted” sticker, and I was voter number 127. I’m not sure how many registered voters are in my precinct, but there are more than 150,000 in my county. An estimated 25 percent came out to cast their vote – the fewest since 2007.
In an off-year election, turnout is typically low and there aren’t many races on the ballot (in fact a number of candidates on my ballot were running unopposed). However, the races and ballot measures should not be overlooked, especially given the potential impact that they could have on nonprofits like Goodwill® and the people that we serve. Among the issues covered by ballot measures include: the rights of people with criminal backgrounds, minimum wage increases, property tax increases, and restrictions on charitable solicitations.
Regardless of the election outcomes, the act of voting is just one way in which individuals can partake in our democracy. The election outcomes create a number of opportunities for advocates to continue to educate stakeholders about issues of importance, to strengthen existing relationships with incumbents, and to create a foundation for new relationships with freshman lawmakers.
Advocates can attend town hall meetings, meet with lawmakers, and voice concerns or support on issues via action alerts and on social media (check out your lawmaker’s Facebook and Twitter pages). Goodwill leaders can play an active role in coalitions, host local advocacy days and invite lawmakers to visit their agency to see the mission in action.
As we continue to countdown to November 2016 and focus on the national stage, let us not forget the important role that communities play and that every voice matters.