Always Vote: Why Odd Years Aren’t Off Years

Are you a regular voter? Do you only vote every four years? Have you ever voted at all? I pass no judgment; it took me until I was almost 30 to become a midterm and odd-year voter, and it took me until almost 35 to become well-informed.

If you’re not sure why the 2021 election should matter to you, think about the safety of your child’s school, those lake-sized potholes on your morning commute, how clean your drinking water is, the response time of your nearest first responders, if your local library’s materials and resources are up-to-date, that elusive left-turn arrow when you’re rushing home from the grocery store with a screaming baby in the backseat, the people who will hire your city’s next police chief, the accessibility and inclusivity of your city’s parks and playgrounds for those with special needs or sensory challenges, the factors that help your home retain its value, whether our schools will be able to prepare our kids for jobs that don’t yet exist, how much you pay in property and local sales taxes, and where that money is spent.

Every Vote Matters

As an electorate, we seem to have a top-down view of voting and rank elections accordingly: presidential, then midterms, then municipal. However, because the results of the elections in our own backyards have a far more immediate impact on our daily lives, we should all think of them differently. After all, your proximity to government is a far better indicator of how much your vote actually matters.

I voted in the primary this August because I wanted a say in who would be on the general ballot this coming November … and 14 percent of registered voters in Johnson County joined me. That’s it. Two years ago, turnout in our last municipal general election was only 17 percent.

When fewer people vote, the likelihood of a close, contested race goes up considerably. The 2017 Ward 3 Olathe City Council race, for example, was decided by four votes. 

Do you want less than 20 percent of registered voters (or maybe even a handful of voters in a close race) to make decisions about your child’s safety or your tax dollars? Because when you decide not to vote, you’re letting a very small portion of your community vote on your behalf or against your best interest. 

What’s on Your Ballot

I do understand how busy we all are. I also get that there are many people who would vote but choose not to because they don’t feel informed enough to do so responsibly. So, I am happy to help with your November 2021 election homework. 

Missouri

Those on the Missouri side have far less on their ballots than those in Kansas this November since Missouri municipal elections were held earlier this year. There are several ballot measures and propositions to consider depending on where you live, but no other actual races to consider.

Please visit your Missouri county’s election office website for details to find a sample ballot as well as polling place and advance voting information.

Cass County
Clay County
Jackson County
Kansas City, MO (residents within city limits)
Platte County

Kansas

Those on the Kansas side will have a variety of city council, city commission, unified government, school board, community college trustee, water district, and/or utility races to consider. 

Please visit your Kansas county’s election office website for details to find a sample ballot as well as polling place and advance voting information.

woman and her son wearing "I voted" and "Future voter" stickersDouglas County
Franklin County
Johnson County
Leavenworth County
Miami County
Wyandotte County

Though it’s too late to register to vote for November 2021, you can always get yourself registered for 2022 if you haven’t already done so.

Register to vote in Missouri. Register to vote in Kansas.

Be Informed

From there, I recommend visiting Vote411.org, which is a site helpful for all U.S. elections run by the League of Women Voters. While some candidates did not return their surveys to the LWV, you can get to know those who did participate in their survey. Candidate web and Facebook pages can be helpful as well; however, I appreciate being able to more directly compare the people running to represent me based on set questions, which is why I use Vote411.

Our own Fox4 has a dedicated “Local Election Headquarters” page with help questionnaires on a wide variety of area races.

Why I Vote

Since becoming a mom, I see voting as a way to contribute to my children’s future. Many of the policies enacted today will directly affect tomorrow, so I want my sons and daughter to know that I showed up for them whenever I was given the opportunity. When I’m feeling adventurous or extra patient, I take a kid or two (maybe not all three) with me to cast my vote. I mean, we all get stickers when I’m finished and who doesn’t love a sticker celebrating a job well done? 

See you at the polls!

After growing up in Bellevue, Nebraska and graduating from University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Claire made her way to Kansas City where she met her husband, Scott. They live in Olathe with their three children — Evan 6, Abbie 4, & Baby Isaac. (Fun fact: All three have November birthdays!) Claire spends time advocating for early childhood education/intervention and is always looking for ways to become more civically engaged; she attends Olathe City Council meetings on the regular! She loves cheering on the Huskers and our KC teams, date nights, reading five books at once, writing, contemplating the deeper issues of Daniel Tiger's Neighborhood, and listening to her kids giggle together.

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