How to make your vote count

Every November, across the country, citizens flock to polling places to cast ballots in their municipalities’ local election. This year’s election day is Nov. 2.

FSU is located in Framingham’s fifth district, where elections will be held for mayor, district counselor, school committee member, and library and cemetery trustees.

Each elected official in your town or city matters because they play an important role in making decisions about how your community will function.

If a significant portion of the population doesn’t vote, then elected officials won’t represent the views of the people.

Your town’s selectmen, or city’s mayor, could be your neighbor. They are members of your community who run for local positions so they can represent their neighbors – people like you.

Citizens who serve in locally elected positions make decisions about your community, including tax rates, paying first responders, schools, road repairs, and parks. Their job is to listen to your concerns and take action to improve your community.

In order to be an informed voter, you must do your research before heading to the polls. Read up on the different candidates and ballot questions, and look up a sample ballot ahead of time. 

Sample ballots can be found on each town or city’s website, and are excellent tools to prepare voters for what will be on the ballot on election day.

If you don’t vote in your local election, the people who take office might not address your quibbles and qualms about potholes in the roads and proposed pipelines near your neighborhood.

What matters more than simply voting is informed voting.

You should do your own research and be properly informed about the positions and people you are voting for.

There are many ways to learn about what is happening at the national, state, and municipal levels.

One way is to explore different forms of journalism, including newspapers, websites, and television and radio broadcasts.

However, it is important to know which news sources provide factual, unbiased information. 

When viewing sources, be skeptical but don’t be cynical. 

We recommend using mediabiasfactcheck.com. This website allows you to search a news source you may be reading to see if it has a history of misinformation and if it presents any bias.

Always cross-check your information sources with this website.

Another useful website is allsides.com. This website allows you to see how multiple news outlets are reporting on a story from the right, left, and center of the political spectrum. 

Having a balanced perspective of a given situation will allow you to make an informed opinion of it for yourself. 

FSU students can also access The New York Times for free by signing up using their student emails while on campus Wi-Fi. Once registered, they can access free, reliable news anywhere.

Attending meetings is also important to casting an informed vote, whether it be virtually or physically. Many towns and cities broadcast their meetings on local TV stations and stream them on YouTube or Facebook.

These meetings can include debates and speeches made by political figures, as well as select board, committee, and town meetings.

The first step to participating in informed voting is to register to vote. 

In Massachusetts, you can register to vote online by visiting the Secretary of the Commonwealth’s website. To vote you need to register to vote 20 days before the election. 

As election day approaches, take the steps necessary to ensure you are being represented.

Fact-check those new sources.

Inform yourself about what and for whom you are voting.

Use your voice to vote for the people who represent you.

Your vote decides which candidates earn their position – someone who will answer the people’s call, or someone who will ignore their community’s cries.

Voting is valuable, but informed voting is priceless.