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You hit the polls, now what? You have done your civic duty. Whether you went to the polls or mailed in a ballot, your vote was cast. Here’s how you can continue to stick to the path of the civically engaged citizen.
How do you even know who won?
Most major news outlets report election results, but many also “call” races, making a prediction on who won before all the ballots are counted.
Results may take some time to finalize. Be sure to find results on either government websites or reliable news outlets, rather than checking the candidates’ websites (not everyone likes admitting they lost).
Once the elections are finalized, the county clerk should have a list of local winners of races on their website.
To find information on local elections, go to Detroit’s Department of Elections website or to the Michigan Voter Information Center site.
Research, cast and repeat
Now remember, when it comes to voting the primary is just the first round. In November’s general election, you will repeat the process, but there may be some more research to do on ballot initiatives or candidates from political parties whose primary you didn’t participate in.
After the election, but before swearing in
When someone wins a general election, it will be at least a couple of months before they take office in January. How do you see what they are up to until that time? Social media is a great tool to track and interact with elected officials. Or, you can kick it old school and make them stick to their word by contacting them directly. Call, email or write them at their campaign headquarters before they move into taxpayer-provided offices.
Does your public official keep their word? Do they seem attentive to concerns?
When a candidate runs for office, they often list priorities and actions they plan to take once elected. You may want to consider the candidate’s experience and plans to address key priorities. A detailed plan indicates they are taking the desired position seriously and will be ready to serve on their first day of office.
By providing residents the opportunity to share their experiences, public officials can ensure programs and services are working effectively and are fixed when they’re not. You may want to consider how willing and/or hesitant they are to provide the public with this opportunity.
When concerns are raised, elected officials should find answers and create solutions. For example, if residents have shared concerns about a particular program treating them unfairly, officials can request a legislative review on how the program was implemented or call for more oversight.
Continuous dialogue with constituents should be a two-way street. Officials should not just deliver their message, they should also hear questions and input from their constituents and be easy to get in touch with.
Getting your voice heard
You can sign petitions or get directly involved with an elected official by volunteering for their office. You can get involved in groups that deal with issues you care about. For nonpartisan civic engagement, join a group like us — the Detroit Documenters — and cover meetings so the general public can stay informed on civic events. Remember, your tax dollars pay for that office in Washington and Lansing, regardless if you voted for a particular official. Stay involved and have a say in how your hard-earned tax dollars are spent.
Read the rest of the Detroit Documenters Voters Guide and look up any unfamiliar terms in our vote with confidence glossary. Still have questions about voting in Detroit? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.