We asked our community what makes going to the polls so hard and what we could do to make it a more meaningful and enjoyable thing to do as a local.
As the turnout number began making the rounds, there was a lot of outrage and spite. We headlined our newsletter “This is why we can’t have nice things,” so we’re guilty of jumping on that bandwagon.
But real talk: let’s speak about this a bit more constructively. If you were one of the people who didn’t vote, what stood in your way? Did you not have enough information to make a decision? Were there logistical hurdles? Did it just not seem to matter? Are there things the media or local board of elections could do to make voting more appealing, more relevant, and just straight up easier to do?
A bunch of you wrote back and we published some of the highlights from your answers below because we want to keep the convo going. We’re working on our voter guide for the Nov. 8 election, so how can we help Nov. 8 be better than Aug. 30?
Let us know in the comments how we can help you a) not miss election day (without being really annoying about it) and b) actually know what you’re voting on. (Raise your hand if you’ve just voted for your party down the whole ballot because you didn’t know what else to do.)
I didn’t know there was an election
Ok first off—I raise my hand is absolute shame. I’m one of those guilty suckas who didn’t vote. And I’m angry about it. I awoke the next morning after seeing election results and was like, WHAT?! There was an election yesterday and I missed it?! How the @&* did that happen?!
… I saw the dang early polls when I took the kids to the library. In my absolute ignorance, I am so embarrassed to admit this, I thought Florida had some super early polling booths open every weekend before the presidential election. I basically thought I had time. I had no idea this was for last week until I saw results on your paper in my inbox. …
It was a pain in the ass
“Make the process more efficient. Last election it took 4 hours to stand in line to vote during early voting. That’s a half day of work to miss. So… If I’m going to miss half a day of work, it better be for an important election.
The new voting precinct I’ve been assigned to has barely any parking but too far to walk to. Which means annoyance of waiting around until someone leaves in addition to standing around waiting to vote.”
— Mayda Domenech
I didn’t understand what I was voting on
I voted, but I really struggle with the circuit court judge stuff, and often the primaries if I haven’t followed these politicians in the past, and when I went to New Tropic for the guide, I had a hard time finding a lot of people who were on my sample ballot. And for those who were, there was so little info (likely because it wasn’t as accessible) that I wasn’t even sure how to make a decision with the limited info I had. It barely felt better than picking between whose name sounded coolest.
So tl;dr better coverage of people in minor elections and easier ways of finding it on site would be amazing.
— Margaux Herrera
I didn’t connect with the candidates/issues
… That link between what’s happening in our country, what’s happening in our backyard and how we can speak with our vote is still fuzzy.
There seems to be the group of hyper-involved, frontline allies and protesters and movement leaders, and the group of complacent voters. There isn’t much of a spectrum of activity. There is also the pressure to vote for the “right” candidate, the one on all your friends’ bumper stickers, the one with the largest Twitter following.
… We are not synthesizing the giant pool of stuff into something personal and worth fighting for.
As a woman and a product of immigrants who were routinely disenfranchised, I’m keenly aware of the importance of civic participation. I understand it is the basis of our nation and yet, even I feel unfit or unprepared to cast a vote at times.
— Isabella Cueto
… I’m so embarrassed. I am totally disengaged from local politics because I’m frustrated. Since moving here about 3 years ago, I’ve been utterly turned off by local politics and have felt like there was no meaningful way to get engaged.
In [my previous city], there was an inundation with information. People walked everywhere. There were folks on the street reminding voters to go to the poll by NEXT TUESDAY or whenever. It was on full blast.”
How to help
“Full on blast on Facebook and other social media about election DATE — countdowns and all for dummies like me. …
For busy moms like me, libraries need to put up reminders at the front. Grocery stores in the burbs could have reminders. Shoot, I would send out reminders to my colleagues and other mamas if I had an easy shareable meme/post that someone could make. Big fonts: Go vote at your precinct (link included to how to find precinct). Few weeks before last time to register to early vote by mail — another reminder.”
- “Miamian’s guide on how to register” (With detailed information, including link). Do so too in Spanish.
- “After you register to vote, register for absentee ballot voting if you’re ‘super’ busy!- here’s how” (With detailed info, including link). You could emphasize that with this option, the voter ballots get mailed to people’s houses so they don’t have to do the lines. So many folks just don’t know about this option. I do it and it’s brilliantly easy and quick. Do so too in Spanish. …
Better voter guides
Voter guides galore. Who’s who. Links to various sites so voters can read about the candidates for themselves from various sites. A list on why certain organizations endorsed who.
“You could make a website database with non-partisan, objective information for each candidate…. One thing that I find is notably absent is a source to go to with objective information on all candidates. It’s impossible to find for those with busy schedules. Perhaps a quick info guide on all candidates could also make people feel more informed, thereby motivating them to feel that they can make an informed decision with their vote. Do so in Spanish.”
As of Sept. 20, we’re only 48 days away from election day. Plenty of time to do better this time. Let us know how to help.