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If you’ve had any kind of social connection over the last few months, you know that the presidential election is tomorrow, Tuesday November 8th. What you may not know is that along with the general election, your ballot comes with a variety of other questions and names. This article (though slightly too late), is not here to tell you to vote for Clinton or for Trump, because frankly if you still aren’t sure on Monday the 7th it’s probably too late. There are multitudes of articles from all over that can give you the run down of policies proposed (you can also just check out each candidates campaign website). 

What is important is knowing the rest of the ballot. If you are voting absentee this article is too late for you, but to those voting at home tomorrow, here are a few things to be educated on before entering the booth:

Local Representatives/Senators

Along with the US Congress, your state has it’s own legislature. There will undoubtably be elections for local and state representatives, and for those of you who are not actively involved in local politics it is sometimes difficult to find information. Why are these people important? State legislation most directly affects your every day life. From taxes to school funding to decisions about marijuana legalization, minimum wage, and health care, these people make the call. Federal governing, while important, is much more difficult to individually influence. KNOW THESE PEOPLE! Even a quick social media search will prove to be helpful. Many local representatives aren’t funded enough to have big flashy websites like Clinton or Trump, and therefore they may utilize social media heavily to get out the word about their campaign. 

Governor Races

Your governor is like the president of your state. They have the power to veto or sign any bill your local/state representatives and senators pass. As stated before, this is incredibly important. There is no “electoral college” for governor or state congress, and therefore each individual vote counts. Your governor’s term might not be ending, but it is crucial to know this information along with the candidates in order to make an informed decision.

US Senators/Representatives

Trump V. Hillary will hardly matter on inauguration day if there is not a cooperative Congress. Make sure to check whether or not your Senate or House seats are up for grabs and who is running. These officials usually will have official websites, so information will be more accessible, but checking out the official Twitter or Facebook accounts of the candidates is sometimes just as helpful. 


Typically there will also be referendum questions on your ballot. These are direct policy questions that are posed to the people to vote on. Common past/present referendum questions could be about legalization of marijuana or gay marriage, tax increases/decreases, local wildlife codes, bonds, or funding decisions. Referendum questions are often worded to be confusing, so it is really important to pay attention to what you are voting for. Before you vote, research the implications of a “yes” vote versus a “no” vote. Typically local newspapers or publications will publish an article that will explain the referendums in clearer language. These are also incredibly accessible on the internet. 

You’ve been beaten over the head (most likely) with information both true and false about our presidential candidates. On Wednesday, no matter who is voted to be the next President of the United States, the rest of the items on the ballot will take effect and will impact your life more directly than who sits in the oval office. Whether or not you vote for president, please take this into account, and know that elections happen more than every four years! If you are frustrated with the status quo, tune into local politics and their elections. Depending on the town/state, elections happen every year, sometimes more than once. In short: vote (or don’t), but as a human US Resident take the time to know more than the “nasty woman” and the “racist orange”.

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Hi! I'm the Campus Correspondent for Ithaca College's Her Campus chapter and a double major in English and Politics (International Studies). I'm an equestrian, a lover of music and dance, and an aspiring writer and avid reader. While my long term goal is to teach political theory at the college level, I am planning to enter the workforce for a few years hopefully continuing to read, write, and edit. Her Campus has been my home since my freshman year, and it brings me so much joy to continue to write and run our chapter in my last year at school.
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