VoteImportant local elections are occurring in Ohio on Tuesday, November 5th.  If recent elections are any indication of voter interest, turnout may be lower than usual. Sadly, a growing number of people are coming to believe their vote no longer carries the weight it did in the past.

Common complaints about voting revolve around the quality of candidate choices and the erosion of trust from supporting politicians who campaign to govern on principle but, once elected, do the opposite.

My advice to those worried about the value of their vote is – take heart!  The people still have the ability to make their voices heard at the ballot box. Though the landscape of elections has changed in recent years, with greater understanding, the people can make their votes carry more impact today than ever.

  • Through “gerrymandering” to protect incumbents, 80% of districts are now controlled by one party.  As long as a candidate makes it to the general election ballot with the preferred party affiliation, he or she will win every time.  Thus, the real opportunity to make a change is the primary election.
  • Fewer than one in four people vote in the primary, making the threshold for victory far more attainable. In a majority of districts, it can now be said, “one vote in the primary equals four votes in the general.”
  • To control the outcome of primary elections, many local parties create voter guides and “endorse” candidates in the primary. With such endorsements, candidates have a greater than 90% chance of winning the primary. In a one-party district, these candidates are all but certain to win the general.
  • Party endorsements are determined by individuals who serve on what is known as party “central committee.” Central committee members are also elected in the primary. One person from each voter precinct may serve and it only takes five signatures to appear on the ballot.
  • Regardless of the stunning level of influence possessed by central committee members, many of these positions go unfilled because no one files to run. When this happens, party officials happily appoint the “open seats” to individuals who will support them and their friends. If one vote in the primary equals four in the general, one vote on central committee can equal hundreds of votes in the general.

Learn more about the central committee process and how you can play a more direct role in putting better candidates on the ballot, take the brief survey at this link.

Rest assured that your vote still matters. In a potentially low turnout election like this week, your vote is more important than ever. Plan to vote on Tuesday and encourage other like-minded friends to do so as well. In the spring of 2014, Ohio will hold its next major primary election. Understanding the importance of your involvement and the value of your vote will ultimately shape the future of our state.