A year out from the 2020 election, the media’s focus on the presidential race can feel overwhelming. If you live in a state with a competitive 2020 race for U.S. Senate, you’re beginning to see the first of an onslaught of attention paid to the all-important battle for control of the Senate. But the race for control of your state legislature makes just as much difference in your daily life.
State legislatures exercise power over a vast array of state laws that determine everything from reproductive rights, to environmental protection, to civil rights. In 2019 alone, state legislatures considered more than 1,500 separate bills dealing with abortion.
State legislatures also control the Congressional redistricting that will take place in 2021. (Stay tuned for a future Voting Tuesday post with more information about redistricting.) In 2019, 49 of 50 states had both chambers of the legislature controlled by a single party. But there are many states in which a change of just a few districts can flip control of a chamber. This can make an enormous difference, as Virginia’s 2019 election results demonstrate.
Get involved in your local legislative races. Your support, whether it’s financial or volunteer work, can have the greatest impact in legislative races, where races can be won or lost by a handful of votes. Ballotpedia is a great resource to learn more about your state legislative races.