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The 2018 Midterm Elections Recap

In our newest edition, we advocate students to PAY ATTENTION about basic civics, voter turnout, and current trends in government

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The 2018 Midterm Elections Recap

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VOTER TURNOUT

For this election, social justice advocates, organizations, and even celebrities were very emphatic about voting. In the months leading up to it, articles were written, advertisements were made, and videos were produced, like this one:

NAIL

All of which were targeting American people and their right to vote.

So, how did it go? Well, 47% of the people able to vote went out and did it. 47% is far from 100%, but it’s the highest voter turnout in 52 years. 36 million people submitted early ballots, which is an astounding number. 

Besides social media practically begging Americans to vote, why did so many people actually decide to do it this year?

Well, to put it simply, many were highly upset with the American government. In October 2018 alone, the US congress got 73% disapproval ratings. And, in this day and age, people are a lot more educated on various topics that are the government’s responsibility to address.

Democrats also wanted to see a blue wave. Before the election, Republicans took both the house and the Senate, and Democrats desperately wanted to grasp control. Their tiredness of being a step behind most likely brought a surge of blue voters.

 

CHANGING DEMOGRAPHICS

What actually resulted from this big voter turnout? Well, a bit of a split.

51.7% of the House is now Democratic; 225 seats are now blue. Republicans now only hold 197 seats, which makes up 45.3% of the House.

As for the Senate, Republicans won the race. The Republican party now holds 51% (out of 100) of the seats, and the Democratic party dropped to 44%.

It’s definitely a change. But the real question is, how much will actually get done? What will the Democrats be able to achieve, and what will the Republicans be able to dismiss and vice versa?

NAEye interviewed Mr. Funka, a World Cultures teacher at NAI, and asked for his opinion and prediction as to what will happen with this new congress.

“It’s hard to tell. If people want to get stuff done, I think there’s certainly the possibility to do so. It just kinda becomes a question of, ‘will both sides manage to come together and work on things?,’ especially now that there’s not the inevitable conflict you have there when you have a minority party within both houses trying to fight against a majority. You have this chance for compromise between the house and the senate, and even the presidency. But, at the same time, people are going to start their election runs sooner rather than later for 2020. There’s been a lot of promises made by the Democrats to investigate a lot of things. So there’s the possibility of bringing things together, reaching some compromise…there’s also the real possibility that it just turns into a giant battle for two years. And they won’t get a lot done, at that point.”

Will the two parties be able to compromise and find a way to achieve things, despite their differences? Or, like Mr. Funka said, will it just be an enormous cat fight?

 

VOTER SUPPRESSION

When an election rolls around, there are always several cases of voter suppression. Voter suppression is, by definition, a strategy to influence the outcome of an election by discouraging or preventing specific groups of people from voting. And usually, voter suppression has to do with racism. 

In North Dakota, Native Americans were victims of extreme voter suppression when a rule was made stating that every person voting needed a form of identification. What’s wrong with that? Well, the rule gets a little stricter. Every person coming to vote must have a form of identification with their residential address. This regulation was implemented with full knowledge that Native Americans live in places without identified roads.

Voter suppression highly affected the black community in Georgia, when the Former Secretary of State of Georgia, Brian Kemp, halted thousands of voter registrations for extremely minor errors that might have occurred in the registration. This might not have been an issue if 70% of those affected weren’t black. And, it gets worse-on election day: voters experienced technical issues that resulted in extremely long lines that many feared would be cut off before voting officially ended. This was after Kemp falsely accused Democrats of messing with the machines (and was quickly proved wrong and fraudulent), in an effort to put blame on the Democrats for future technical errors. Luckily, the NAACP took action with a lawsuit and Georgia was granted three extra hours to vote.

North Dakota and Georgia were hit hard with voter suppression, but it happened all over the place. Certain ballot boxes were “forgotten.” People were made to stand in the rain when there was coverage available; they just “weren’t allowed to stand under it.”

Voter suppression also poses some interesting questions. Mr. Hull, English and Journalism teacher at NAI, wondered,

“Why isn’t election day a three day weekend and national holiday?” and, “If all my personal information, including my credit card information, is accessible online, why can’t I vote online?”

It’s hard to predict but easy to imagine that if Americans were given the day off work and the ability to vote from their phones or computers, 50% of eligible voters voting might turn into a much bigger number. Why does it have to be so hard to vote?

“FIRST TIMERS”

Despite voter suppression, the surge of voters in 2018’s midterm elections resulted in historical progress for minority groups in America. Never before have so many women been elected to congress, and the United States saw some of its first representatives and senators of various ethnicities, religions, and sexualities.

107 women were elected to congress in this midterm election, beating the record of just 84. This is a huge step forward for women; not too long ago, women couldn’t even vote. The fact that 1/5 of the US congress is female is extraordinary, however not ideal, as it would be more fair if it were split in half. But, this is definitely progress.

Native Americans also received representation in the US congress with the two first Native American congresswomen in American history. Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland were elected, and the LGBTQ+ community also found recognition within Sharice Davids, who not only was one of the first Native American women elected, but also the first openly gay Kansan in congress. 

Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib became the first two Muslim women elected in American history. From Michigan and Minnesota respectively, they are contributing diversity to the US congress, as many in the United States have a tendency towards expressing xenophobia and racism to the Muslim religion.

The LGBTQ+ community and the Jewish community got representation through Jared Polis, the first openly gay and Jewish governor of Colorado. Never before has Colorado seen such range of sexuality and religion within a governor.

Texas elected its first Latinas to congress, Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia. Despite Texas having one of the biggest Hispanic electorates in the country, Escobar and Garcia are the first Hispanic women ever elected in Texas. Both will serve in the House of Representatives. 

CONCLUSION

Voter turnout was the biggest its been in half a century. Democrats took the house, and Republicans took the Senate. Voter suppression was extremely present but resulted in the most diversity the US Congress has ever seen. Questions about the voting system will continue to be asked, and minority groups will continue to push for equality within the government. America can look forward to the Presidential Election of 2020,and until then, we can watch a split congress either come together and thrive or argue to the point of failure.

About the Writer
Abigail Gallen, Staff Writer

My name is Abigail Gallen, and I am a sophomore at North Allegheny. One of my biggest passions is politics/activism, and most of my stories are politically...

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