Brad Blansky is a medical student in the UVM Larner College of Medicine Class of 2023.
In the following blog post, Blansky writes about how elections effectively serve as a regular health check-up for any democracy and urges everyone to exercise their right to vote.
Does the thought of voting make you tachycardic? Would you rather fill out a patient’s history and conduct a physical than complete an election ballot? Or are you the person everyone curbside consults about what is going on in the world and current events?
This November, it’s time for the United States’ regular check-up. Elections serve as a way for citizens to gauge how our country is doing and determine what direction we want to go. Just like how we take time to care for our patients in the hospital, engaging in local politics is a way to take care of the health of our local communities.
Sometimes we may feel like our vote doesn’t matter. I’ve heard this sentiment quite often, usually when discussing national elections and in response to the way our electoral college is structured. However, during these off-year cycles, we have the power to make a real difference in our community. Many of the laws and policies that affect our everyday life are decided at the local and state level. It has become even more evident that every vote counts during these elections; for example, in 2017 an election in the Virginia House of Delegates came down to one vote and was ultimately decided by picking a name out of a hat.
Local Politics Do Provide Results
Engaging in local politics often provides more tangible results compared to the abstract headlines of national elections. Things like housing security, social services, and other community health needs often come from local and state-level political decisions. In fact, this year alone, the Vermont legislature has passed bills to increase funding towards building more affordable housing across the state as well as expanded a COVID-era initiative to reduce food insecurity amongst school-age children.
It can also be overwhelming to try to decide who to vote for in our local elections. It’s not uncommon for people to become a little diaphoretic when trying to come up with an assessment and plan to vote. One may even ask, is there a way to stay up to date on candidates and their policies? Yes, there is! Sites like Ballotpedia offer non-partisan summaries of politicians’ stances and voting records. Another resource is Vermont Public, which provides information about what is going on locally. Being an informed voter can help you be alert and oriented to which candidates align best with your values.
How To Get Engaged
Being engaged in our local community doesn’t have to be comlex…I mean, complex. Here are three easy steps you can take:
- Step 1 (P/F): Are you registered to vote?
- Step 2 (CK or congressional knowledge): Who is on the ballot?
- Step 3: Where do you show up to vote on election day?
Want to learn more? Check out vote.health/UVM for additional information.