At RunForOffice.org we just published all 7000+ state legislature seats in the United States and made those positions address-searchable, accompanied by easy to understand directions to get yourself on the ballot.
The state legislature seats are something that I’ve been particularly happy to work on since they’ve become a hotbed of political activity lately, and have been used to overturn local ordinances more recently.
State legislatures have also been more aggressively used as public laboratories for political ideologies, and it is no secret that special interest groups do their best to have state legislatures pass bills that they have crafted (looking at you, ALEC). And by nature of their name, “special interest” groups only represent a particular segment, perhaps a business, perhaps a social group, but it’s painfully obvious that they are only looking to advance the interests of their group, and not the community as a whole.
In 2014 it was found that over 40% of these crucially important state legislature seats went uncontested for state legislature races. Quite frankly, that’s simply unacceptable and I have a hard time believing that there weren’t people willing to step up and run for these seats. Plain and simple, uncontested elections are a problem that with a little bit of organizing, plenty of citizens and communities would love the chance to solve by fielding their own candidates.
There’s a feeling of widespread discontent in this country with our political representatives, which can create reactions from anger to apathy. But there is a proactive response: we can take the responsibility for ourselves to understand the candidacy process and field like-minded candidates.
Understanding what we can run for, how to get on the ballot, and providing some new candidates will move us in a positive direction toward getting a political leadership that is more reflective of the population. It may come as no surprise, but the overwhelming majority of candidates are older, white, male, and only 2% of our fellow citizens ever even try to run for office. Quite simply, to have a better functioning democracy we have to pay attention to “candidacy turnout” which means exactly as it sounds: having a meaningful number of people running for office.
I am sure there are those who feel they may be too new to politics or inexperienced. Take note that this is an amazing cycle for new candidates and “outsiders”. Please consider the historic timing of this political moment and consider running. If you asked the folks that are supposed to “know politics” one year ago, they would have never dreamed that Donald Trump would be the GOP nominee, or that Bernie Sanders would go this far into the nomination process against Hillary Clinton for the Democrats. Let’s face it: people feel let down by the leaders of the major parties and they’re showing that at the ballot box, via donations, and by volunteering.
If you’ve had that hankering in the past to throw your hat in the ring, there’s not a better time than now. Check out RunForOffice.org to see what you can run for, and if you belong to one of those groups that are underrepresented, now is the time to organize. There’s hundreds of thousands of positions that people can run for, but are too often uncontested. The need for candidates is there, the only question is: Do we have people willing to step up and run in these races? There’s only one way to find out: Plug your address into our site, organize, and RUN!