As busy parents, it is hard enough to balance kids and jobs and pets and homes, so keeping up with elections and local politics usually takes a back seat. It can be time-consuming and, if you’re like me, the last thing you want to do is get dragged into partisan debates pitting right-wing conservatives against extreme left-wing liberals. But — at the risk of sounding like an old high school civics teacher or an overly-enthusiastic “ROCK THE VOTE” PSA from MTV in the early ’90s — it is so important for citizens to stay informed and to vote in local elections.
In the interest of full transparency, my husband is currently a candidate running for the South Carolina House of Representatives, so I have been hyper-focused on his campaign and the upcoming primary election on June 9. But before he entered the race, I couldn’t tell you the name of the person who represented my district, and I consider myself fairly informed about politics, in general.
But it wasn’t always that way. I grew up fairly oblivious to politics, and we didn’t talk about it in our house. This lack of knowledge — and as a self-absorbed teenager, lack of interest — did not bode well for my future career in journalism. I wanted to write for Seventeen Magazine, not some boring old newspaper, and I was woefully ignorant about local government.
During my first job as a copy editor at a daily newspaper in South Carolina, I worked the late shift and was responsible for designing the front page of the paper. One time, I wrote a headline about a county council meeting that read something like, “Council discusses parking ticket violations.” I came in the next day, and my boss had circled the headline in red and wrote on the page, “WHICH COUNCIL?” And I thought to myself, I don’t know, which council? Because I didn’t even know the difference between the city council and the county council.
Yes, I had a huge learning curve, but I quickly started to become engrossed in local politics. Also, working in a newsroom on Election Day (or night, in my case) is a very exciting, fast-paced environment, and I was fortunate to experience the thrilling intensity many times during my career.
Keeping informed, as a family
It should come as no surprise since I met my husband while we both worked at a small-town daily paper, that we share an interest in politics on all levels. Before my husband decided to run for office, we have always been open with our kids and talked to them about who the president or governor is and make them watch the news. At ages 8 and 6, they have a surprisingly good grasp on current events (which totally makes me proud).
Raising the next generation to be knowledgeable about how our government works is a responsibility I take seriously as a mom. It’s why I want my kids to see me voting and understand how and why I support certain elected officials.
With so many decisions being made at the state and local levels about issues that matter to families — such as funding for schools and roads, access to health care, economic opportunities, and protecting the environment — and impact our daily lives, I implore all eligible moms to vote and make our voices heard.
Voting & election information
This year, all 170 positions for the State House and State Senate are up for grabs. There are 124 seats in the House of Representatives — one from each district across the state — and 46 State Senators.
How can you find out which elections will be on your ballot?
Each county has its own board of elections, and these websites have a wealth of information including maps that show which House District you live in, as well as the location of polling places, voter registration details, and election results.
You can also find an overview of the South Carolina Legislature. Although navigating the website is slightly cumbersome, it is packed with laws, proposed bills, and detailed information about how state government operates. It is also helpful if you want to contact your legislator or see their voting record.
Learn more about candidates
SCVOTES.ORG: The nonpartisan South Carolina Election Commission is the official resource for voters statewide. Their website is user-friendly and especially helpful is the ability to get a sample ballot so you can be prepared before you go to the polls about what races will be on your ballot.
VOTE411.ORG: Sponsored by the League of Women Voters, this website is a one-stop-shop resource that provides nonpartisan, election-related information to the public. It also has personalized ballot information, and you can learn more about the candidates in their own words based on their responses to a questionnaire.
BALLOTPEDIA.ORG: Billed as an online political encyclopedia that covers federal, state, and local politics, this nonprofit and nonpartisan website is overflowing with information. Candidates have the opportunity to answer questions, which is helpful for those looking to research candidates’ positions.