A few months ago, the Morven Park Center for Civic Impact (MPCCI) hosted the “Sneaky Civics” webinar, during which the team provided examples of how civics sneaks into our everyday lives. The examples included people using their voice to share ideas in the workplace, researching questionable information, taking responsibility at home by asking for help with chores, and making an impact by helping family members solve problems. Interestingly, voting is a civic responsibility that incorporates all four core civics principles of Voice, Research, Responsibility, and Action.
Voice: By taking the time to vote, you express what you want your local community, state, and country to look like, either by continuing current trends and policies or changing them.
Research: Before casting your vote, make sure you know about the individuals and issues being presented on the ballot.
Responsibility: As citizens eligible to vote, it is important to take the time—either through early voting, absentee ballot, or in person on election day—to cast your ballot.
Impact: While many people say, “My one vote does not matter,” elections can be decided by thin margins, particularly regarding local contests and issues on the ballot.
The year after a presidential election is an “off” year in which only two states—Virginia and New Jersey—elect new state representation, but several communities hold smaller localized elections. While national elections receive greater attention, local elections often have greater impact on daily life. The winners of mayoral, town/city council, and county official races will enforce the decisions made by citizens voting on matters such as taxes, school construction, and infrastructure improvements. This is why it is important to know not just the candidates, but also any other questions on the ballot.
Even in a year without a pandemic, voting can be difficult for some individuals because of work schedules, unreliable transportation, long wait times, or complicated Voter ID laws. While Virginia Governor Ralph Northam made Election Day a state holiday in 2020, the resultant greater accessibility is not available to all citizens. If you know someone who faces voter accessibility problems, reach out and see if there is a way to help or contact your local Registrar’s Office.
To help prepare for Election Day on November 2, 2021, MPCCI is pleased to provide the following websites to help regional voters prepare for their state and local elections. If you have additional questions, we recommend that you contact your local Registrar’s Office for the most up-to-date and accurate details.
- D.C. Board of Elections: https://www.dcboe.org/home
- Maryland State Board of Elections: https://elections.maryland.gov/
- Virginia Department of Elections: https://www.elections.virginia.gov/
Voting for Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, House of Delegates
- West Virginia Elections Division: https://sos.wv.gov/elections/Pages/default.aspx