Most kids from the 80s and 90s remember when Schoolhouse Rock introduced them to a lonely bill who sang his way through Capitol Hill in hopes of becoming a law. The classic 1975 episode serves as the base political knowledge for most voting adults from the latchkey era. In roughly three minutes, “I’m Just a Bill” highlights how U.S. citizens use Congress to get necessary laws passed, making Congress members some of the most crucial voices for engaged Americans.
Despite this reality, a national poll conducted by StudyFinds revealed that only 42% of the 346 adults who they surveyed knew the name of at least one local member of Congress. That’s extremely unfortunate.
As the 2020 election comes to a close, the presidential race isn't the only key battle taking place on the ballot. Thirty-five seats in the Senate are up for grabs and these crucial seats will determine which political party controls the national legislature. The likelihood of tighter gun restrictions, more cash flow for legal cannabis, better prison reform, more reproductive rights, and a larger pandemic relief package hinges on who sits in the Senate as much as it depends on who’s ruling the Oval Office. For this reason, it’s important that Americans don’t focus their voting power solely on the leading presidential candidates.
Even outside of Congress, local politicians affect the daily lives of their constituents just as much, if not more than, a commander sitting in an office hundreds of miles away. The recent outcomes in high-profiled cases like the Breonna Taylor murder, drives this point home. Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron will be up for re-election in 2024. If he chooses to continue his AG gig, he’ll need his supporters to outweigh the hosts of locals who are disappointed with how he handled Taylor’s case. But for now, all eyes are on 2020.
With COVID-19 getting worse and each state handling the pandemic as they see fit, it’s even more crucial for voters to take a closer look down the ballot. Pull up a sample ballot then study the candidates running for local and state offices because lives are literally on the line.
In an increased effort to arm voters with important election information, here are three non-presidential positions to review before voting (and some key races to watch).