Our government affects us in numerous ways every single day of our lives. Americans have the ability to hold the majority of political offices in our country from the age of 18. Not to mention, we have the right to choose the people who will represent us. Unfortunately, voter turnout in our nation continues to be low and the number of people who choose to run for office is even lower.
Most days of the week, our office spends time reminding citizens to be good voters. While this is extremely important, this article will instead focus on reminding citizens to be candidates as well.
Perhaps you’ve never considered running for any office. Why not? It could be that you don’t know what steps to take to become a candidate. Look no further! Here is what you need to do:
Once you have set yourself up, you would need to get started raising money for your campaign, collecting petitions and getting your name out there. There are more reports to be filed throughout your campaign that can be explained to you by Caitlin Germaine, our county’s Candidate Services Coordinator. The reporting system is very user-friendly, and – of course – our staff is always here to help. The Division of Elections for the State of Florida also offers candidate information in the form of guides and handbooks for people who are interested in running.
Another possible reason you’ve never considered running for office is your gender. Men are much more likely to become candidates for political than women. A survey conducted by POLITICO/American University found that only 24% of Democratic women and 20% of Republican women have considered running for any sort of office, while 35% of Democratic men and 41% of Republican men have considered the idea. A separate study conducted by the Brookings Institution found that 51% of female college graduates felt they would not be qualified to run for office in the future, and only 31% of male college graduates felt this way. This shows a distinct difference in confidence levels between men and women in this arena.
In recent years, however, there has been an increase in the number of women who run for office. The “Year of the Woman” was in 1992. Nationwide, there were 117 women running for Congressional seats that year. (Remember, there are 535 seats!) We currently have over 500 women seeking election for Congress this year. Women are on the rise! This national trend has also become evident in our own county. We have seen it recently in the special election for State Representative District 39. Of the three candidates who filed to run, two of them were women.
Women have proven that they can win elections at the same rate as men. Women just have to take the first step. The door is open. The opportunities are there. It is up to you to decide if you’d like to continue to let others make decisions for you, or if you will be one of the decision makers.