Opinion – Voters should pay more attention to congressional elections

Every four years the American public loses their minds over the presidential election. The media covers the candidate’s every move and debates the topics they base their campaign on. 

It happens like clockwork. But there are dozens of positions up for grabs alongside the Oval Office that rarely receive any attention. 

In Jackson County alone there are 26 positions besides president on the 2024 ballot, ranging from school board positions to governor of North Carolina.  These types of offices are up for elections every two years but rarely receive attention. 

Comparatively, the presidential elections get much more coverage from the media and attention from the public because the president is viewed as the “leader of the free world”. With expectations so high, the whole world watches the U.S. presidential elections. 

But much of the politicking within the United States goes on in Congress and in state legislature. Topics like funding for school districts or infrastructure growth are decided at the state and county level.  

Heated topics like abortion are now decided at the state level, with the governor and representatives in the North Carolina Assembly making very personal decisions for all North Carolinians. 

And yet the public often turns a blind eye to lawmaking at state and local levels of government.  

Funding decisions, which often show the prioritization of agenda topics, are decided outside the Oval Office. Yes, the President sets the agenda for the party they were elected from, but they have no real financial delegation power.  

If you want schools in your county to receive more funding, you have to pay attention to politics closer to home. 

Beyond the impact of state and local elections on policy priorities within the region, the midterm elections are a different can of worms. 

After two years of presidential policy driving the gears of government, people may be outraged by what they are seeing and wish to change the political agenda. 

The only way to change the agenda halfway through the president’s four years in office is through voting in the midterm elections, which get even less attention from the public. 

 With limited attention, midterms provide a stage for extreme political views. 

Candidates with extreme views will come out during the midterms and capitalize on this outrage which normally results in the “flipping” of each chamber or the switch of the party in control. The candidates will often base their campaign on either far right beliefs like outright abortion bans or far left beliefs like total gun control. 

People who are heavily invested in politics will most likely vote in the midterms and thus tend to be more extreme in their political views. These people do not represent the views of the majority.  

When people do not pay attention to midterm campaigns, they miss the true colors of the political parties, and may have people with extreme beliefs elected to their representing bodies. 

There is hope. There are many resources that voters have at their disposal to make educated votes and to streamline the election research process. 

Ballotpedia.com is a great resource that composites each election by position and lists the candidates and links their campaign websites for voters to access and research their potential representatives.  

It is the duty of every citizen to be active in elections, no matter if it is a midterm year or a presidential election year.  

With the political climate as hot as ever, it is important to understand that there are more positions in government that impact our day-to-day lives than the presidential race – it is important that we remain educated about who we are electing to office.