Created by two friends trying to do better for their cities.

Staying up to date with local politics
Elections don’t happen once every 4 years, as much as the media might want you to think that. Elections also don’t happen every 2 years. Or every year. Depending on where you live, local elections can happen whenever they want to happen! That might explain why local election turnout rates are abysmally low -- only 15 to 27% of eligible voters end up voting locally1. Not only are local turnout rates low in general, but they also tend to be lower for non-white, low-income, and younger voters. And, unsurprisingly, the very people who are underrepresented in elections are often the ones without the privilege to vote in the first place. The government isn’t helping us vote in local elections -- so we are.

Ways to stay up to date

1. Review your local election board’s website.

Local elections websites might be outdated and or difficult to navigate, but in theory, they should hold all the essential information on your elections. Note that these websites are distinct from local government websites, since elections are administered by a separate body.

Check out...

2. Follow your local election board, government, and politicians on social media.

In this day and age, local governments and/or elected officials often use social media accounts to share info on upcoming elections (and other events, like hearings on policy measures and budgets -- kudos to you if you’ve ever attended one of these). If you’re regularly using social media like we do, this can be the best way to keep up with local elections since it incorporates information into your daily browsing habits. It can also be a way to find other local accounts, which can give you even better context for local politics.

Check out your local government’s…

  • Twitter (often the best source, in our opinion)
  • Facebook
  • Instagram (if your government is truly hip)

3. Sign up for the newsletters of local political organizations.

Even if you don’t intend to join these organizations or fully agree with their politics, you might find some up-to-date information on local elections through their newsletters. And if you’re lucky, you might even find a handy dandy voter guide! (see “Researching your ballot”)

Check out local chapters of…

4. Read local news sources.

Not only is this a way to find news on upcoming elections, it can also be a way to feel more connected to your community (see “Feeling Connected to your City”).

Check out…

  • Your local coffee shop for copies of the local paper
  • Twitter (search for “[your city] news” to find local news accounts)
  • NPR local member station

5. Attend Local Town Halls and City Council Meetings

This is helpful not only for understanding your elected officials’ opinions, but also for hearing the issues that local community members and advocacy groups are bringing up (and for recognizing whose voices are missing).

Check out…

  • Your City’s website to see when meetings are held. Meetings have mostly moved online during the pandemic, and old meetings are often archived.

References

1 National Civic League, "Increasing Voter Turnout in Local Elections"

Small Victories