Do local elections carry moral weight?

I just recently voted in the presidential election, and upon filling out all of the desired options, I flipped the ballot to the back to see a bunch of names I didn’t recognize! All of whom were local candidates running for local, county specific elections. I assumed that they would have a “democrat” or “republican” next to their name so that I could vote according to party lines, however they had nothing. So I did not know their affiliation. I did a quick google search on some of them, but found nothing regarding any specific political party.

I felt the time ticking away as I looked over the local ballot, and I knew I was taking a long time, my husband was done and waiting for me. So unfortunately I just filled some blanks and handed it over.

My question is this, do local elections carry moral weight as nationwide elections do? Local officials usually govern small matters, city ordinances, financial matters, etc, where as presidents and senators have the ability to make decisions on HUGE moral issues, such as abortion, euthanasia, same sex marriage, etc.

Should my rash jump to fill in the blanks for my local elections be mentioned in my next confession? Or is it morally neutral because of their inability to make huge moral decisions?

If these local elections were important or contested, you’d likely have heard something about them in advance. News coverage, flyers on your door etc.

One argument people use against electing judges rather than appointing them is that usually people don’t know anything about the judge, unless they’ve appeared before him or her in court or otherwise have met the judge through an organization or event. The flip side is that if the judge does anything really suspect or poorly regarded, it usually makes the news, and the public often respond by voting the judge out.

I’m a little surprised there was no party affiliation. On my ballots, the local judges and officials almost always have a party listed, so if you don’t know anything about the candidate you can at least choose by party.

I don’t think this is some big serious moral issue. Next time maybe look at a sample ballot in advance and do more research, if you want to be more informed.


Our local elections for mayor and city counsel have no party affiliations. They aren’t deciding anything that has to do with political ideology. Same for the school board.

I have to confess I sometimes cannot figure out the legal mumbo jumbo of some of the referendums on the county or state levels and just skip them.

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School boards determine curriculum.


You vote differently than I do. I don’t vote party lines but vote a mish mash between republicans and Democrats in both the national and local elections.

The thing is though that I will actually spend an hour of my time researching the candidates on my ballot to determine what it is they plan to do in their office.

This year for example I did not re-elect the commissioner for the highway district, a republican, I voted for the democrat, why? Because upon further research there have been disputes and in some instances an impasse about how he has been wanting to spend local taxpayer dollars. Sure it doesn’t carry as much weight as let’s say abortion. But it’s important to take into consideration how these candidates want to use and spend local tax dollars in ways that aren’t wasteful.

Another example is My local sheriff is up for re-election, a republican, it was important for me to spend some time researching him. I don’t want an unscrupulous sheriff.

So my answer is. When you vote. Spend some time researching these candidates, even the local ones. Because, even though these people won’t have power over abortion, euthanasia…etc.
They do receive your local tax money, and I do believe that it is an ethical responsibility as a citizen to vote in candidates that won’t waste local tax dollars frivolously. Moreover, the people you vote for locally are your representatives for the various governmental departments in your home region. I would argue that their decisions and how they spend your local tax dollars can have a lasting effect on your community. So when you vote, do research the people you are voting into office


@0Scarlett_nidiyilii, True, but in our area, it does not seem to be affected by one’s political party. Nor does the curriculum seem to change much as far as I can tell.

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I would say that it is morally neutral unless one of the candidates was pushing an immoral position. However, I would also say that more decisions that affect your day to day life happen at the local, county, and state level than the federal. Yes, federal taxes and Social Security and all that, but what your children are taught, how well your roads are maintained, when and if your trash gets picked up, how clean your water actually is, whether the Sheriff is skimming the budget and taking bribes to let bad folks off, etc., etc., etc. are determined locally.

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I’d argue local and state items on the ballot mean more than POTUS. Outside of a dozen states, your POTUS vote (and often senate) vote is (nearly) meaningless. But the ballot measures and local races directly affect your life where you live.


I ALWAYS check positions of candidates before I vote. So please, REMEMBER to do that. No matter their party.


State and national politicians usually start locally, you can help weed out the bad ones early


It’s unfortunate you didn’t study your local races ahead of time to learn about candidates for state and local offices.

I would hope that everyone would get to know their local candidates, local issues, and their positions on those issue. We vote for candidates, not parties.

Many local races are non-partisan. Candidates are not party-affiliated.

Right. Because a lot of local positions are unaffiliated.

It doesn’t matter if you take a long time. Take as long as you want. Although, what you can do when you are actually in the voting booth is limited, as learning about the candidates takes some time and research ahead of time.

You could also have simply left blank those you weren’t prepared to vote for.

We should be well informed voters for all levels of races. There is a saying “all politics are local”-- and so, yes, many things that happen at the local level shape the larger picture, impact people in many ways, and we have a duty to form our conscience and vote at the local level too.

I don’t think this rises to the level of needing to CONFESS. I think you are overthinking this.

Simply be more prepared next time.

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It is simply a lesson learned for the next election in 2 years. The government that impacts our daily life the most is the local and state governments. Folks need to spend more time learning about local candidates, Ballot initiatives, etc. You know where many national politicians begin? Local/State politics.

Let’s say RvW is overturned by the Supreme Court. What happens next is it becomes a State issue. Those people we vote for State office will make important decisions.

A decade ago, Planned Parenthood wanted to build a mega-clinic in my small town. You know what stopped them? Our local government and local citizens.

Your local politics are vital, and next election you will likely be really knowledgable about those politicians and issues.

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Couldn’t you have simply abstained from the votes about which you knew nothing?

In my area, no, you must vote on every single race or your ballot is not valid.

There is often a dearth of information about local candidates. Rarely if ever would a local candidate for any office elaborate their views on abortion, and though some pro-life “ideological purists” would disagree with me, there are offices that, by their very nature, do not even remotely touch on abortion, and thus it might be possible to vote for someone who is philosophically “pro-choice”, even if this fact is unknown to you (and unless you knew the candidate personally, it probably would be). Simply put, the views on abortion of a candidate for soil and water commissioner would be irrelevant. Most other issues for local races would be morally neutral, exceptions being school boards (who choose curriculum) and possibly county council (whose only jurisdiction over abortion-related matters, though, would probably be zoning restrictions, remote cooperation at best). When I was choosing who to vote for in the school board elections, I found that the more liberal candidates were very coy about their stands on anything, but I was able to isolate two candidates who would be most likely to adhere to traditional values, and I voted for them.

This year, I voted for Democrats in some local races where they were uncontested, and where pro-life issues would be either remote or irrelevant. Our county sheriff, who is a truly admirable public servant, ran unopposed, and I had no problem with this. I don’t know his views on abortion, and the job of sheriff would really be irrelevant — if there were an abortion clinic in the county (and I don’t think there is, there is one in the city), he might be called upon to ensure safe access, but he would only be doing his job. Aside from that, sheriffs have nothing to do with abortion one way or the other. There was an unopposed Democratic candidate for state representative — an office that could potentially touch on abortion — who was similarly coy about his views, and I wrote in the name of a local pro-life activist instead. Write-in is always an option — if you know of someone local, even though they won’t win, at least you will have peace of mind knowing you did the right thing.

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Sorry, I didn’t know that. In my country there is normally only one election on a given day, and if there is more than one, each election has a separate ballot paper, with a different coloured paper to make it easy for the counters and it us perfectly fine to put a blank paper in the ballot box if you want to


In the US this varies from State to State, each has its own rules.

“Some” may consider it a sin, but “some” generally are not trained in moral theology.

Someone sitting on a county or city commission may impact your life, so knowing something of the candidates and their positions is at a minimum advisable.

As to whether they can or cannot impact your life, you might want to coinsider the city councils of Seattle and Portland.

Seattle has taken $50,000,000 out of the police budget, and th police department was already understaffed; the city has a horrible problem with homeless and drugs (see, e.g. “Seattle is Dying”) and they were already offering large bonuses to recruit police as they were not able in the ordinary course of recruiting to fill slots. This is what the city council did.

Portland has had riots (once they pick up a brick to throw, it is not a “protest”. The last I heard (and I don’t even bother reading about it any more) there had been 130 days of rioting.

And the Mayor is in charge of the police department. He closed out the Gun Violence Task Force, allegedly because the had a “disproportionate rate of stopping Blacks”.

The task force was disbanded in June and an interview of three members of the Task Force were interviewed in September. In the same three month period of 2019 there were 35 shootings.

In the three month period after the task force was disbanded, there were 100.

Let that sink in.

In the great majority of towns and cities across the US, council are not facing these issues. But this is an example of what a city council is capable of doing - or undoing.

The principle of subsidiarity says that everything that can be done locally should be done locally. As such, there is a responsibility to entrust such duties to people who will faithfully execute those duties.

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This is true. You can’t just take the R and D letters for granted.

They certainly carry more direct, relevant political weight.

The only reason to take a voting decision to confession is if you voted for a candidate BECAUSE s/he promoted something against Church teaching, e.g. abortion rights.

We do have a call to faithful citizenship, outlined here, so apathy and ignorance shouldn’t be part of our lives as Catholics.

For the next election, can you have your ballot delivered to you? Being there in person can make you feel “on the spot,” and at least in my area, hand-delivering a ballot lets you cut in front of (what can sometimes be) a long line! :grin:

Whether you choose to put the ballot in the mail or deliver it to the polls in person, it gives you more time to think about your voting and research the pros and cons of your options. My husband and I make a Saturday ritual out of brewing a hot beverage, coffee more me and tea for him, pulling out the laptop and our ballots, and looking up different candidates and issues. We do this for every election, from national to the local school board.

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