The American Presidential elections are doubtlessly the most high profile political events in the US, if not the world. The length of the campaigns, the many televised debates, and the constant media coverage make it seem like they are the elections that matter. In reality, there are hundreds of other election campaigns across the US happening at the same time. On November 3rd, 2020, all 435 seats in the House of Representatives, 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate, 13 state and territorial governorships, as well as numerous other state and local elections will be contested. So why do we focus so much on Presidential elections?

Part of the reason is the US political system. The president is elected separately from the legislature, meaning that state, district and local elections have no impact on the presidential election. As both the head of state and head of government, the president is not only the leader of the executive branch but also the figurehead of the entire political system. 

The truth, however, is that all those other elections are just as important, if not more. The more local your representative, the closer they are to you. The politicians who represent you in your state legislatures are responsible for a smaller number of people, but those people live in a smaller area and are more likely to be affected by the same issues. As a federal state, Congress and the President are responsible for larger policies that affect everyone in the US, but it is the in-state governments that decided much of what affects your everyday life. Municipal governments are responsible for parks and recreation services, police and fire departments, housing services, emergency medical services, municipal courts, transportation services (including public transportation), and public works. They are the ones who make sure your local buses run on time, your streets are cleaned of snow, and your garbage is removed. 

So this election, pay attention to your local candidates. Make sure you know who they are and what policies they are standing on. Go vote, if not for a Presidential candidate then for your other representatives, because they are the ones who make the biggest difference.