We are all over-saturated with a deluge of news stories about impeachment and the 2020 election—and although these are undoubtedly some of the most consequential issues of our time, we’ve also dangerously disregarded the critical impact of the 2019 election cycle.
There are 49,000 races on the ballot in 34 states today which could arguably have more of an impact on our daily lives than the presidential election next year, even though such major national elections more often make headlines.
With Roe v. Wade at risk, who we elect as President certainly matters to the outcome of reproductive freedom—but so do the rest of these races. Down-ballot races can have a radical impact, and governors, mayors, county executives, city councils, attorneys general, district attorneys, elected judges and other down-ballot candidates can play pivotal roles in the ongoing fight for reproductive freedom.
As the co-founder of #VOTEPROCHOICE—which endorses hundreds of pro-choice down-ballot candidates and provides the largest, most comprehensive, online nationwide pro-choice voter guide—highlighting pro-choice candidates up and down-ballot in every race is part of my job. Our most recent report, Local Impact: How Down-ballot Seats Affect Reproductive Freedom, details how reproductive freedom is deeply shaped by elected officials at every level of government.
Reproductive freedom is only a reality for people if the state, local and municipal elected leaders support abortion access and actively advocate for continued access. Every choice we make as voters can change the fabric of our country, and reflect who we are as a nation. Who we choose for school board can dramatically change how sex-ed is taught in schools; who we elect as sheriff decides how to enforce arcane laws against women who get abortions.
Plus, these same local politicians go on to run for bigger offices—meaning that supporting them now will only deepen the bench of candidates who stand for your values in elections yet to come.
The United States is overwhelmingly pro-choice. One in four people who could get pregnant will have an abortion before the age of 45, and over 72 percent of voters want abortion to be safe, legal, accessible, affordable and respectful. Yet state legislatures across the country have enacted 59 bills restricting abortion access in 2019 alone and effectively forced more than 162 abortion clinics across the country to close since 2011.
Right now, 58 percent of American women live in a state considered hostile to abortion rights. Now more than ever, we need political leaders to champion choice—and we need to vote on our values.
We can transform the political system and fundamentally protect and expand reproductive freedom in the face of an unprecedented attack, but only if we show up to vote for every election, even those that aren’t dominating the headlines.