Vote! Politics are local

Image+from+the+Houston+Chronicle+

Image from the Houston Chronicle

William Meyer, Currents Editor

Are you sick of too much homework? School board members elected this November 2nd have the power to change our homework policy. However, more people celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day than vote in municipal elections. While a record-breaking 66 percent of eligible voters cast ballots for the President in 2020, only 27 percent vote in local elections.

As a result, your parents, your neighbors, and your friends are left without a say in their local government. Municipal elections have a significant and direct impact on our everyday lives – from school taxes and trash pick-up to parks and polling places. To have a voice in such important matters, not only do you need to vote, but also be an informed voter.

First, you need to know what’s on the ballot. In the November 2nd election, you will be able to vote for the School Board, Board of Commissioners, County Council, Judges, and Election Officials. Here’s what they do:

School Board (4 of 9 Positions)

  • Sets local standards for schools, including
    •  Maximum class sizes
    • Minimum qualifications for teachers
    • Curriculum requirements
  • Adopts district policy
  • Approves school district budget
  • Employs all staff, including superintendent
  • Sets the tax rate in the district
  • Decides if and when to renovate an old school or build a new one

Board of Commissioners (Wards 2, 4, 5, and 6)

  • Appoints members for advisory committees such as:
    •  Zoning Hearing Board
    • Park and Recreation Board
    • Environmental Advisory Council
    • Shade Tree Commission
  • Approves township budget
  • Sets rates for taxes and fees, such as:
    • Taxes on Businesses, Stores, and Restaurants
    • Township Real Estate Tax
    • Storm Water Fee
  • Raises capital through bonds
  • Supervises all township operations
  • Passes necessary policy and regulatory ordinances

County Council (2 of 5 Positions)

  • Oversees elections
  • Adopts county budget
  • Raises funds through taxes or bonds
  • Provides county services, including:
    • Health department
    • Waste disposal
    • Family service
    • Prisons

Judges

  • Superior Court
    • Reviews appealed civil and criminal cases
  • Court of Common Pleas
    • Deals with civil and criminal courts
    • Separates into orphans, juvenile, family, and dependency courts
  • Magisterial Courts
    • Handles small claims and parking tickets
    • Issues warrants
    • Conducts preliminary proceedings in criminal cases

Election Officials in Your Local Precinct

  • Judges of Election
    • Supervises all Election Day activities and personnel inside the polls
    • Opens and closes polls
    • Oversees all necessary paperwork
    • Returns election results to the county
  • Majority Inspector of Election
    • Assists Judge of Elections
    • Coordinates operations with Minority Inspector
    • Manages the poll books and assists with voters
    • Appoints Machine Operators
  • Minority Inspector of Election
    • Coordinates with Majority Inspector of Election
    • Ensures bi-partisan representation at polling places
    • Appoints minority clerk
    • Receives copy of all election results and numbered list of voters for safekeeping

To find out the best candidates for these essential roles, go to Vote411.org. There you will find non-partisan information about each individual and their stand on critical issues. This League of Women Voters site contains needed election information. This includes how to register to vote, how to verify voter registration, and find what’s on the ballot. There’s even personalized information to find your polling place and discover upcoming debates in your area. You can find Pennsylvania voting rules and important numbers to call if you have a problem on Election Day.

If you are 18 years old or will be by November 2nd, go to Votes.pa.gov to register. If you are not eligible to vote, get your parents, neighbors, and older siblings to cast their ballots in this locally impactful election.

Your vote is your voice. Use it.