On Tuesday, Nov. 2, East Lansing held its city council election. Local elections typically have a much smaller turnout than national elections, though city elections have potential to impact day-to-day life in a much larger way.
Poll workers are people who have dedicated their time to observing and participating in the civic process, and they shared why they believe that participating in city elections is important.
Teresa Bell, an election worker at Precinct 17 at Shaarey Zedek Congregation, explained that voting in local elections gives people the opportunity to consider their options.
“There’s people running for city council that are younger, with different ideas, and there’s people running for city council that are older, they maybe have some old school ideas ... If you’re looking for a change, the only time you’re going to get it is when you vote," Bell said.
Bell encouraged voters to feel comfortable using absentee ballots. While people aren’t able to take their time at the polls in person, with an absentee ballot, they can research candidates and proposals at their leisure.
“People are just more comfortable at home,” she said.
Bell, a long-time city worker, enjoys the community aspect of working at the polls.
“I feel like I know a lot about elections, and also the people in my city,” she said. "We’re just here to make their day go smoothly.”
Dale Pfiefer has lived in Lansing for 67 years. Now, he lives 40 miles away, but said, “I still come back to work in these elections in East Lansing because this town is that important to me.”
Pfiefer said he believes that voting in city elections is vital, as city council members work with issues that deal with the every day life of an East Lansing resident.
“Voting is important,” Pfiefer said. “I think people should do it, and I think it should be something that people are willing to help with — somebody’s gotta do it, why not me?”
Margie Ring, a poll worker at the city's Precinct 3 at the Hannah Community Center, said she enjoys the personal interaction and giving back to her community.
“It gives you a voice in your city through the council people you elect," Ring said. "If you don’t vote, you don’t get to express your opinion."
Joshua Nahum started working at the polls during the 2020 presidential election. This was prompted by the pandemic: As the country announced that it was lacking people to work at polls in person, Nahum wanted to contribute.
“You’re much more likely to be affected by local politics than you are often state and national politics,” Nahum said.
Nahum pointed out the city council has the power to decide the city’s income tax. Since many students work in East Lansing and are taxed by the city, Nahum believes that they should be aware of these decisions.
“Vote early, and vote often,” Nahum said. “Because even the small elections matter.”
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