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Lessons Learned from 2020: Research Your Local Candidates

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A recent report from SmartAsset ranks North Dakota in the top ten states for voter engagement. But voters' rights groups worry that in a presidential election year, voters aren't as well informed about state or local candidates. (Adobe Stock).
A recent report from SmartAsset ranks North Dakota in the top ten states for voter engagement. But voters' rights groups worry that in a presidential election year, voters aren't as well informed about state or local candidates. (Adobe Stock).
November 4, 2020

BISMARCK, N.D. -- Voting in North Dakota has wrapped up for the 2020 election, but voters' rights groups hope residents take all the energy they used in deciding on a presidential candidate and channel it into being informed about future candidates for local offices.

This year's race for the White House came during an era of deep political divisions and still commands much of the attention. But in North Dakota, there were races for governor and statewide offices, as well as municipal elections back in June.

Janna Farley, comunications director for the ACLU of North Dakota, said it's easy to lose sight of those races in a high-profile presidential year, but taking time to research local candidates can have more weight.

"Those people have a tremendous impact on your day-to-day life," she said, "because they are making decisions for things that really do affect you on a local level -- that affect you in Fargo, that affect you in Bismarck or Minot."

She said that's especially the case for state legislative candidates and city offices. In North Dakota, many of those contests will come up again in 2022. Farley suggested monitoring decisions at the local and state level over the next couple of years, to be well informed the next time you vote.

The next legislative session begins in January, and Farley said that's a big opportunity to measure how well your community is being represented. She added that demanding better policies means engaging with your local lawmakers.

"They're the people that you're going to potentially run into at the grocery store, at school, at church," she said. "They're from your community. They're representing you and your neighbor. So, reach out to them and talk to them, and tell them what's important to you."

Farley said that's especially important as the coronavirus continues to have a major impact on North Dakota. She said policymakers have had to make tough decisions in a situation that caught many levels of government off guard, and seeing whether and how they keep the public in mind should be a big factor.

Voting in North Dakota has wrapped up for the 2020 election, but voters' rights groups hope residents take all the energy they used in deciding on a presidential candidate and channel it into being informed about future candidates for local offices. Mike Moen reports.

North Dakota election information is online at vote.nd.gov.

Mike Moen, Public News Service - ND