State and local elections happen each year as different offices come available, but no voter turnout compares to that of Presidential elections. This is a major issue because there are incredibly important elections happening during the midterm elections that are not advertised as thoroughly as the Presidential elections are.
In Nebraska, Republican Senator Deb Fischer is up for re-election. Senate seats typically get more attention than some other seats in local elections, so many voters in Nebraska may be aware of this and go vote. However, in Kearney there could be up to three spots opening up for election on the Kearney Public School Board of Education in 2018 and Bob Lammers did not file for re-election for the Kearney City Council, so there will be an opening there.
Voter turnout was reported at record high numbers in Nebraska for the 2016 election, but that was for a Presidential election where that is all the news typically covers and political ads are all over the internet. When there is a local election that does not involve voting for the President, many voters do not see the importance of going out to vote; because of this, if individuals do not push the message of how important each vote is, then nothing will change. There are effective ways to spread this message, such as sharing the simple fact that if the representatives in Kearney are not voted in by the people of Kearney, then they will not truly represent their best interest.
There are various ways to tap into a larger portion of Kearney’s population without it being the year of a Presidential election. About 15% of Kearney’s population is made up of students from UNK and that doesn’t include students from the Community College. This is a large market of voters that could be affected by local elections and are likely to encourage their peers to vote. These local elections should be advertised all over campus and pushed through different organizations on campus.
UNK does have organizations for campus Democrats, Republicans, and organizations that are simply about civic engagement such as the American Democracy Project. Voting is not a partisan issue, therefore these groups should all come together and promote these local elections throughout campus and on social media in any way they can. There should also be no class on election day, or at least a time period where classes are canceled and rides are offered to polling locations for voting.