NOTE: This "It's Your Business" column by Chamber CEO Erin Predmore was published in the Oct. 9, 2020 Bloomington Herald-Times.
This year, the presidential election is sucking all the oxygen out of the room as we head toward Nov. 3. It’s certainly a crucial race and not just for the business community.
But here’s the thing: While presidential candidates receive much-deserved attention and scrutiny, many of the down-ballot races go virtually unnoticed. How many times in the past have you filled out your ballot and wondered: “Who the heck are these people?”
The candidates we elect for local and state offices have a direct impact on our daily lives. They make decisions that impact businesses, nonprofits, educational institutions and individuals. They decide how our tax dollars are spent. They make policies and regulations that affect how your business can operate and whether you can thrive. They hire and oversee our school superintendents. They determine how laws are applied. And most of them do this in relative anonymity.
The Greater Bloomington Chamber of Commerce is working to help our members and others in the community be more informed voters. We’ve launched an online, nonpartisan guide for elected positions that represent all or parts of Monroe County. Please check it out at ChamberBloomington.org/2020-general-election.
You’ll find information, including short video interviews, for candidates in these races: U.S. Congress District 9, Indiana Senate and Indiana House of Representatives, Monroe County Council and Commission, other Monroe County elected offices, Monroe County Circuit Court, and trustees for Monroe County Community School Corp. and Richland-Bean Blossom Community School Corp.
We encourage you to research the candidates by reading reports in the Bloomington Herald-Times and other media, by visiting the League of Women Voters’ Vote411.org, by reviewing each candidate’s campaign materials, and by contacting candidates directly if you have questions. We hope the chamber’s online resource guide can be part of that mix.
Of course, knowing about the candidates is just part of the puzzle. Getting people to the polls is a heavy lift, too. In 2016, turnout in Monroe County was about 53%. If that were a grade, we’d be failing. We can do better.
Early voting started Tuesday. What are you doing to ensure our community gets at least a passing grade in turnout this year?
We understand that many businesses shy away from anything to do with elections, citing concerns over being political. We get it. But voting itself is foundational to our democracy. Encouraging your employees to vote and pointing them to nonpartisan resources is an act of citizenship, not politics.
Publicize resources like the ones mentioned above. Encourage your employees to take advantage of early voting hours — go to MonroeCountyVoters.us for a list of hours at Election Central, 401 W. Seventh St. Make sure your staff knows if they are eligible for an absentee ballot. Provide flexibility if employees need to take time to vote on Election Day. Host an Election Day pizza party to celebrate democracy.
Put up a Vote Now or Vote Early sign in front of your business.
You’ll be seeing those signs around town, thanks to a partnership with the Chamber, the League of Women Voters and Monroe County Election Central. The league’s Vote Early signs are available for your business — you can pick one up at the chamber office at 421 W. Sixth St.
And look for periodic “flockings” of Monroe County’s Vote Now signs in front of businesses around town. Volunteers are planting dozens of signs at different locations, where they’ll alight for a few days before moving on.
Critical mass is important in making an impact, whether we’re talking about signs or voter turnout. Please help our community ensure a strong, informed showing on Nov. 3.