5 Tips On How To Follow Local Elections

5tips-howtofollow-localelections

From the time you wake up to the time you go to sleep you will most likely have been exposed in some way, shape, or form to information regarding the presidential election candidates. Presidential elections get the majority of the news coverage. It’s the big show, the spectacle that everyone wants to see. The race for the United States presidency is even watched by people in foreign countries. It’s an important and very high-profile position so it’s no wonder that this is the case.

There’s no doubt that the national and major elections are important. There’s no denying that the state level races are important. However, the races that probably have more immediate impact on people’s lives are the local elections. The president doesn’t determine how the budget money in your city or neighborhood will be spent. Thanks Obama.

Officials in the city council, assembly, commissioners, judges, and many more all make decisions at the local level that affect people’s daily lives directly. These are the faceless people whose names shine brightly in red or blue on poster boards all over your neighborhood a few times a year. They all ran campaigns and were voted for. Local politicians and races for other elected positions don’t usually get the attention nor the voter turn out that the larger races do. It’s not uncommon for a race to be won with around just 10,000 votes. These aren’t the sexy elections but they are the important ones.

Following these races can be difficult with the meager news coverage so here are 5 tips on how to follow local elections.

Local Media
TV and newspapers are the default medium that most people look to when looking for news; local or otherwise. However the major papers or network news in your area might not cover the local races as much as they would the larger ones. Of course you should look at those but you might want to check out some local media. Many communities have smaller print publications that cover the town only or cable access programs that cover the political scene. You might find some of these local papers in supermarkets or libraries. They might be free papers or available on a subscription basis and exclusively cover the community. It’s a digital world these days but there are still a few of them out there.

Local News and Political Blogs and Sites
Speaking of digital media, there is no shortage of blogs and news sites on the Internet. Citizen journalism and blogging have helped spread information through the Internet that might not have otherwise gotten noticed. The chances are pretty good that there are some sites in your area that are covering the local community and the races you might be interested in. You could also look for some political bloggers who blog specifically about your local political scene. Load up the search engine of your choice and look for terms such as “political blogs in (your city)” or “local politics in (your city)” and see what sites come up.

Here are a few links to some lists of local political blogs around the country.

Political blog lists
All Blogotics is Local | personaldemocracy.com
The Fix’s best state based political blogs — extended edition! (2013) | washingtonpost.com
The Fix’s best state-based political blogs, 2011 edition | washingtonpost.com
Slate’s List Of The Best 2010 Local Political Blogs | slate.com

Search Engines
Speaking of search engines, while you are using that search engine you can also do a search on the specific races and candidates you are interested in and follow the links. If you have no clue where to start, have no idea what is going on or even who is running in your local elections then this might be the place to get an idea. A quick search or even a visit to the board of elections site for your city will get you started with a list of upcoming elections and the candidates running.

Candidate Websites or Social Media Accounts
Speaking of the candidates, most these days will have some sort of web presence. They are most likely going to have a campaign website, email lists, and a few social media accounts; Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, etc. These points of contact will keep you informed about debates, campaign stops, baby kissing events, and news coverage that the candidate will be or has been involved in. You can follow them just like you follow that acquaintance from high school that you never talk to anymore. Join the email lists of all the candidates or just the ones you are interested in. Same goes for social media. A candidates twitter feed might be more timely than the posts on the official campaign website. You can even use the Twitter advanced search feature to search for the candidate’s name to see what people are saying about them. Liking their page on Facebook will send you an alert when they post up something new.

Google Alerts
And finally, speaking of alerts, using Google Alerts is the easiest of the bunch. Google collects the world’s information and that includes your local election. If it’s posted on the Internet, most likely Google has found it. All you have to do is set up a Google Alert to send you an email when something hits the Internet with the specific terms you choose. For example, if you want to follow a specific candidate, type their name in the Google Alert set up box and Google will send you an email when they catch new information. You can customize options like frequency of emails, a digest of all alerts in one email instead of individually, or even what region the news is collected from. Aside from the candidate’s name you can try terms such as the seat the race is for as well.

Google Alert: https://www.google.com/alerts
How to set up a Google Alert: https://support.google.com/alerts/

 google_alerts

So there you have it, 5 tips on how to follow local elections. There is an abundance of media out there on local elections these days outside of the traditional print and network news channels. Don’t underestimate the importance of these elections and inform yourself about them as well as you do with the major elections and candidates.

Jaylon Carter
Jaylon Carter is a blogger, social media marketing consultant, former Congressional Campaign Media & Communications Director, and a Hip Hop artist who performs under the stage name Timid (@timidmc). He also runs NetBuzzDigest.com, a subscription newsletter informing parents of current happenings on the Internet.



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