In the weeks leading up to Tuesday’s election, lots of people expressed frustration with the entire process. While it is true that national primaries may feel completely disconnected from the hearts and minds of many in our community, the participation in municipal elections remains absolutely critical. Here’s why.

In the Second Council District, there are about 55,000 people, and 29,197 registered voters. That’s about 53 percent of the total residents. Of those who were able to vote, 7238 people actually voted. That’s just under 25 percent of registered voters. So far, 6,980 votes were counted for the Second District City Council race between Eric Gray and Jeannine Pearce. A total of 134 votes divides the two candidates. That’s less than two percent of the votes, and less than half of one percent of the registered voters.

In the city, there are 462,197 residents. Approximately 54.2 percent, or 250,510, are registered voters. In the decision on Measure A, just under 25 percent of registered voters weighed in on the issue, and slightly less than 15 percent of registered voters supported it. For Measure B, only 14 percent of registered voters supported it. Still, because each requires a 50 percent +1 of ballots cast to pass, both have passed. For Measure A, the difference between passing and not passing was just 4.7 percent of the total registered voters and, for Measure B, 3.6 percent.

With these slim margins, it becomes painfully obvious that each vote does, in fact, matter, and that a small change in the number of election participants can have a huge impact for the future of the city.

For those of you who still feel unmotivated, consider this: In many ways, the election system is designed to discourage the disenfranchised and marginalized from participating. That, alone, should be reason enough to participate.

If you missed participating in the primary, don’t beat yourself up. Just get ready for the next one, scheduled for Tuesday, November 8, 2016. If you’re not registered, Register To Vote. You can also check your registration status at the same link. Also, use a map or the County’s website to figure out who your Long Beach City Council representative is, and reach out to them. Tell them what matters to you, and stay engaged. If you don’t, people whose values and interests may not be in alignment with yours will shape the policies that impact all of us.