Last week GG wrote on finding your political compass when deciding on who to vote for in the Big Race. Since she stated that she’s probably voting Lib, I suppose I’ll state that I’ve decided to stick with the Big O (can I be that irreverent about the president? Oh well. I am). However, I’m not here to convince anyone to vote for anybody for the Oval Office. Frankly, while I do believe who is chosen to be our president is important, the votes that matter most are the ones that are closer to home.

I’m here to ask you to look up whatever other elections are going on your ballot–the small ones, the local ones–and vote in them, too. At least in my area (and I believe in many others), The League of Women Voters sends a questionnaire on important policy to each of the candidates as well as representatives for each ballot initiative, down to the tiniest office, so it’s easy to get informed. The people running for town council, school board, district judges, etc. are the people in your tightest circle of frith, and they are the ones making basic decisions that affect your everyday lives in a way that the president cannot. And yet my impression from my informal polling is that many people leave that part of the ballot blank or vote straight ticket without considering what these candidates actually stand for. Local political divides can be wildly different than they are on a national level. You might be surprised who you’d vote for if you knew their platform.

In Austin, we’re voting on changing the way our city council representatives are elected–something that will deeply affect the way minority voices are heard. We’re voting on several tax increases to pay for hospitals, road repairs, schools, the arts… things that are a part of my everyday existence. Frankly, no matter who I vote for in the Big Race, my state’s electoral votes are going to Romney. Because I live in Texas. But whether or not a hospital gets built, whether or not the East side has a chance to finally gain a voice in my city’s governing, whether or not my daughters’ education is influenced by a school board whose values agree with my own… these things I can help decide. Here my voice counts.

Go vote, Realm! Check all those boxes with some information behind your mark. It take a little time, but it’s worth it.