Election Day 2021 | Kyle Kim
As we pick up any remaining candy wrappers off the ground and throw away our rotting Jack-o’-lanterns, people across the nation are faced with a completely different national occasion: Election Day. Despite an incredibly tumultuous national election just last year, as well as decisive Senatorial elections coming in 2022, we still have important elections occurring on a “off-year.” Thus, the questions remain: why is there an Election Day in 2021, and why should I care?
Simply put, the elections of this year, as well as all other odd-numbered years, consist of a variety of local and state elections, rather than national elections. Nonetheless, these elections still remain extremely significant, with gubernatorial elections in major states like Virginia, as well as mayoral elections in some of the largest cities in the world, including New York City and Atlanta. More specifically, Colorado, Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Texas, Virginia, and Washington have statewide elections today, as well as a variety of local elections occurring across the country.
One of the main concerns of this election cycle is voter apathy and low voter turnout. Decreased voter participation is already an issue in America, with the 2016 election experiencing around 60% of eligible voters participating, and this problem looks to be exacerbated this year. A primary reason for this low estimated voter turnout is that the elections are being conducted primarily at a local level. This means less coverage in the news, less publicity of the candidates, and a general lack of urgency or responsibility in the average citizen. Voter registration could also be an issue, as a lack of awareness in the days leading up to the election means less voter registration and therefore less voters.
However, don’t let this predicted lack of voters fool you into thinking that these elections aren’t significant; in fact, these elections may set an important precedent for many of the most influential cities across the country. A primary example of this is Minneapolis, where the future of the police department is at stake. Following the murder of George Floyd in the city last year, a measure has been placed on the ballot proposing the creation of a “Departement of Public Safety,” under which the police would be organized. This is the first time since Floyd’s death that voters will be able to enact change on a legislative level, making this election a significant landmark in American politics.
Another significant issue at stake is the future of education. Counties across the country are holding school board elections, which will help to determine what will be taught, and what will not be taught, in American schools. Pressing issues on the ballot right now include critical race theory, sex education, and social justice. The elections will also help to determine the future of COVID-19 protocol in public schools, with mask mandates, vaccine mandates, and social distancing protocol all being on the table.
All in all, today’s elections are extremely important for a variety of reasons. Key races across the country, including races within our own school district, will help to shape the future of pressing issues in our hometowns.