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Why Voting In Local Elections Is Just As Important As Voting For President

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Despite 72% of voting-age adults in Wisconsin casting a vote in the 2020 presidential election, election officials expect the spring primary to have around 10% of people cast a ballot.

The spring primary is Tuesday, and despite 72% of voting-age adults in Wisconsin casting ballot in the 2020 presidential election, election officials expect turnout to be about 10% in this election.

Still, a state voting advocacy group, All Voting Is Local, believes elections like this are just as important as partisan ones. Among the offices on Tuesday's ballot are court of appeals and circuit court judges, school board positions and state Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Shauntay Nelson, state director of All Voting Is Local, is encouraging people to remain civically engage. She explains why it’s important to vote in the spring primary election: “When we talk about all voting being local, these are local elections that will impact our everyday experience and that’s what I want people to go into this time with."

Nelson says when it comes to Superintendent of Public Instruction or school board positions, these officials make decisions about funding and how public schools are functioning. She says the superintendent makes decisions on standardized testing, the course of education in private voucher or charter schools and educational curriculum, and how culturally responsive it is, for instance. 

Even if voters don’t have students at home or have much experience with Wisconsin’s justice system, Nelson explains that communities as a whole can change greatly based on who gets elected into these systems.

“Although [some Wisconsinites] themselves have not had to engage in these processes, it is possible that a neighbor has had to engage and as goes our neighbors, so goes our neighborhood,” she says.

Nelson says in addition to voting, it's important for Wisconsin residents to reach out to their elected officials with questions or concerns, even if the candidates didn't run on those issues.

“We have to find our way to engage with these elected positions, where we have a voice within those seats because they’re here to represent us,” she says.

Visit myvote.wi.gov to find your local polling place and to see who is on your ballot before heading to the ballot box.

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Maayan Silver has been a reporter with WUWM’s News Team since 2018. She joined WUWM as a volunteer at Lake Effect in 2016, while she was a practicing criminal defense attorney.
Jack Hurbanis started as the WUWM Digital Intern in January 2020, transitioning to Assistant Digital Producer in July.