EDITORIAL: Vote—not just in presidential contest but in the down-ballot races, too

Keywords Editorials / Opinion

It’s too soon to know whether the rush of early voting that has marked the run-up to the election portends a huge turnout overall.

Folks who’ve mailed in their ballots already or waited in line for hours (at least in Marion County) to vote early may simply be people who in other years would have voted on Election Day.

But the numbers are so strong (by Tuesday, nearly 40% of registered voters in Hamilton County had already cast ballots) that we are hopeful more Hoosiers are voting this year than in recent years.

We suspect that many of this year’s voters have been driven to the polls by an especially contentious presidential battle and what appears to be an extremely competitive 5th District congressional race. We get it. Those races are incredibly important—with health care, immigration, federal debt, the economy, trade and, of course, reaction to the pandemic all on the line.

But we encourage you not to stop marking your ballot after those top-tier races. There’s so much more on the ballot—and the outcome of those races will have significant impacts on your life as well.

Every district in the Indiana House and half of the state’s Senate districts are on the ballot. Talk about races that matter! Indiana lawmakers establish state income, sales, fuel, cigarette and corporate tax rates. They determine how local governments assess property for taxation and what types of properties or property owners receive exemptions and credits.

They establish rules for alcohol sales, environmental permits, annexations, unemployment payouts and workers compensation, economic development incentives and so much more. They determine spending on school operations (which then helps determine teachers’ salaries) as well as highways and bridges, mass transit, universities, Medicaid, workforce training and more.

There are few things in your life that the Indiana General Assembly doesn’t touch in some way. Who represents you there matters.

A number of county offices are on the ballot, too (depending on the county you live in)—including judges (think about all the criminal justice and civil disputes that judges consider) and treasurer (the office that collects your property taxes).

And in most counties, school board races are on the ballot this year as well. These are the men and women who determine the textbooks your kids use (and what you pay for them), the school year calendar, the school leaders that are hired and fired, whether new schools are built or old ones renovated, and what the district’s teacher-to-student ratios will be.

Need to know what races are on your ballot? Go to onemorevoice.com, which is hosted by The Indiana Citizen, a relatively new, non-partisan group that is trying to educate Hoosiers about their choices. On the site, you can see a virtual ballot and click on names for more information.

So learn what you can before you cast your ballot—and don’t stop with the federal races. The future of our communities and our state depends on it.•

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