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  • May 18, 2021

Exclusive: Inside a Democratic Party—What if we played small ball?

 Exclusive: Inside a Democratic Party—What if we played small ball?

Change is coming.

President Trump, to no surprise, worked hard to limit the U.S. Census, which may have resulted in the undercount of Latinx voters, especially. Republicans found that they picked up in some locations—but not to the extent they had hoped, with Texas and Florida gaining seats, Democratic states losing—but the impact is still hard to know. There unfortunately comes out a “woe is me” response from too many Democratic faithful that the poorly run census will result in a disaster for Democrats.

What if, however, it opens up opportunities we haven’t seen before? Many of these states, are facing major demographic changes. CNN notes that here:

That latter shift, in particular, represents an existential long-term danger to Republican control of Sun Belt states where they have held the upper hand for years: Kids of color now compose a clear majority of the under 18 population in Arizona, Texas, Georgia and Florida, and nearly half in the Carolinas, according to an analysis by William Frey, a demographer at the Brookings Institution’s Metropolitan Policy Program. In Texas alone, local experts estimate that about 200,000 citizen Latinos will turn 18 and thus eligible to vote each year through at least 2028.

And 200,000 potential new voters is a huge potential opportunity for Democratic campaigns. The larger problem for Republicans is that the next generation of voters is coming.

Frey’s calculations of the change are stark: Since 2010, Georgia has lost about 90,000 White kids and added 103,000 kids of color; Arizona has lost almost 47,000 White kids and added more than 58,000 kids of color; North Carolina has lost 76,000 of the former and added over 95,000 of the latter. Even fast-growing Texas has about 16,000 fewer White kids today than in 2010; over that same period, it’s added about 550,000 kids of color.

Georgia, voted for Joe Biden in 2020, with 16 electoral votes. Ohio went for Trump with 18. Democratic efforts will spend more time looking at holding and building in states like Georgia where there are population shifts afoot, and that is what scares Republicans. We have a lot of time before a presidential election, however, but what if—and just what if, we could focus efforts on gaining control of local township, city, and county offices?

What if?

It is important, very important, we pass HR1, the most consequential voting rights act in decades, allowing people to participate in our elections without ridiculous hurdles. The legislation is popular among Republicans, Democrats, and Independents. Until HR1 passes, however, what if Democratic efforts focused, right now, on putting in locally elected officials who can set the grounds for what elections look like going forward?

Many states hold their municipal, county, and district elections in odd years. States like Virginia and New Jersey hold their state house elections in odd years as well. What if Democratic voters and candidates focused on local races, where they have the chance to have a serious impact on the way elections are run. From the National Association of Counties:

Elections in the United States are administered in a highly decentralized process through which each state shapes its own election laws, which in turn shape the roles counties play in the months and weeks leading up to Election Day. In the United States, the nation’s 3,069 counties traditionally administer and fund elections at the local level, including overseeing polling places and coordinating poll workers for federal, state and local elections. County election officials work diligently with federal, state and other local election officials to ensure the safety and security of our voting systems. County election officials strive to administer elections in a way that is accurate, safe, secure and accessible for all voters.

These smaller elections have traditionally low turnout. I have, in the last ten years, seen elections resolved via:

  • A one-vote victory
  • A tie which was resolved by a coin flip
  • An election where provisional ballots changed the outcome

These offices have real impact on our day-to-day life. They also have an impact on our voting rights. The more well run our city is, the more friendly and open our communities are, and the higher standard we have in local office, the more likely we are to get people to the polls. Democratic work to elect county and city commissioners can determine polling places, a task that can do a lot to make voting better for everyone in the community. There is a huge difference between placing a voting facility in the police station vs. a schoolhouse, and yet, small movements like that can influence who turns out to vote. 

So, what if we took this time to put in effort, now? Give me your thoughts below, and I’ll try to answer!

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Reporters Team

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