In case you hadn’t noticed, 2020 will be an election year.
Enough Democrats to populate two volleyball teams have been campaigning for a year for an election that’s still 11 months away. Donald Trump started campaigning for re-election the day after he was sworn in.
Analysts tell us most voters are alienated and unmoored, and that electoral politics are far removed from many people’s priorities.
Although the presidential race dominates the news, there are many ways for voters to have a voice and make a difference on issues that matter.
At the national level, the president, all 435 members of the House and a third of senators, including Minnesota’s Tina Smith, will be up for election.
In Minnesota, all legislative seats, 67 in the Senate and 134 in the House, will be up. Statewide offices, such as governor, are not on the ballot in 2020.
Locally, voters will elect school boards, city councils, mayors and county commissioners and those local officials decide issues about taxes, schools, roads and local growth that touch us all.
Citizens’ most important responsibility is voting. There will be three elections in Minnesota this year. The state’s new presidential primary will take place on March 3, although Trump has blocked all names but his on the Republican ballot. The usual primary election to select other candidates will take place on Aug. 11 and the general election is Nov. 3.
The parties will still conduct caucuses on Feb. 25 to nominate candidates for other offices and debate party issues.
Minnesotans lead the nation with more than 70 percent of eligible voters going to the polls. Our goal should be to not only lead the nation but turn out more than 70 percent.
If you’re passionate about government, consider running for office. Robust debate results when there are competitive races for school boards, city councils and county commissioners. The community is not well-served when incumbents run unopposed or when there’s only one name on the ballot.
Citizens have other options in addition to filing for office. Campaigns need volunteers to contact voters, raise money, host parties and pass out literature. Volunteering is a great way to support issues important to you and to make new friends at the same time.
Government also needs volunteers for boards and commissions. Cities and counties have a number of boards and commissions that shape local policy. Park boards, planning commissions, human rights commissions and economic development commissions need people with an interest and curiosity about local issues. Those positions are typically nominated or approved by mayors, councils or school boards.
There’s one way to cure frustration or alienation from government. The answer is not to check out by not voting or not looking for every chance to participate.
The answer is to volunteer and to vote.
Every person makes a difference. Trump is president because one or two voters in each precinct in three states decided not to vote in 2016.
Let’s not let that happen in 2020.