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Provoking the vote: Election Season

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Gabrielle Donaldson

As of 1920, people of all races and both genders were granted the right to vote. Are you letting your right lay dormant? If so, it's time wake it up--get out and vote.

With the Trump Presidency facing two years, the midterm elections are quickly approaching.

What are Midterm Elections?

Midterm elections occur every four years, halfway through a president’s term. Officials in the House of Representatives (435 seats) are elected during this period, as they serve two-year terms but have no term limits. One-third of the Senate (33 seats) is up for grabs during each midterm election because Senators serve six-year staggered terms. There are two senators from each state, and state representatives vary in number as they are dependent upon a state’s population.

Why is this election important?

This election holds tremendous value as Americans have been riled up by the President’s actions, congressional decisions, and the recent appointment of Judge Brett Kavanaugh as an Associate Supreme Court Justice. In addition, this election is considered special because there are 35 seats in the Senate that will be filled as a result of the resignations of Senator Thad Cochran (MS) and Senator Al Franken (MN).

Many underrepresented groups have been strongly encouraged to flood the polls. An extreme push has been placed on African-Americans, who have had the right to vote without legal barriers since 1965 in accordance with the Voting Rights Act. In past elections, they were one of the most underrepresented groups in voting. According to a Pew Research study, in 2016 only 59.6% of eligible voters from the African-American community participated in the presidential election by casting a ballot. Women, who have had the right to vote for almost 100 years, have been advocating for a great showing to the polls this election season. In response to the prevalence of the #MeToo movement, many women have been especially motivated to cast their votes.

With the recent confirmation and swearing in of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the United States Supreme Court, many Americans have come to realize the importance of carefully assessing political candidates before awarding them their shaded bubble of approval.

If you are an uninformed individual in regards to our system of government, it will chew you up and spit you out.”

Whether you are pro or anti-Kavanaugh, the impact of his confirmation is self-evident: once you elect a congressman or woman, they have the power to create and enact laws, in addition, to confirm those who will interpret the laws that govern your life (Senate). We the people are solely responsible for who we elect and we
must choose wisely.

As many issues with voter registration have arisen due to deadlines and voter suppression, it is important that as citizens of the United States, we get out and register to vote. Unfortunately, there are people who institutionalize voting barriers and twist the law via loopholes in order to suppress votes. A prime example is Brian Kemp (R), the current Secretary of State of Georgia, who is running for the governorship in the upcoming midterm elections.

According to the Associated Press, 53,000 voter registrations are on hold due to the lack of exact parity between the voter’s registration information and the information on file with the Georgia Department of Driver Services or the Social Security Administration. Although the state of Georgia is only 32% African-American, 70% of the voter registration applications being held up belong to African-Americans. In addition to that disturbing fact, Kemp’s gubernatorial opponent is a black woman, Stacey Abrams (D), who would be the first African-American and female to become the governor of the historically confederate state of Georgia. Sound fishy?

Voter suppression is a fear tactic that has been used for generations, most directly affecting minorities. When will it stop? The Constitution grants me the right to use my voice freely; whether it’s through verbal or nonverbal communication, the press, or in a voting booth. What is a homeless citizen or one with a P.O. box to one with a “physical address”? Do they not both bear the title of “citizen”? These questions may appear as obviously answerable, but until citizens of the United States, wealthy and poor, white and minority, sheltered and homeless, can vote equally and without unequal yokes, they will remain unanswered. The people’s voice is not in the sum of the desires of the privileged but in the cries of the unfortunate.

To avoid recurring issues, we must be informed, prepared, and have all of our information precise and blemish-free when preparing to become an active voter. Here are some key things that every prospective voter needs to know:

  1. In order to be eligible to vote in the November election, a potential voter registering by mail must meet the deadline of 25 days before the election, and an in-person/same-day voter, 3 days before.
  2. If you are unsure about the status of your registration, you can use credible sites to update you on whether your registration is eligible or not. If you are a new or soon-to-be voter, don’t fret; there are many resources available to you that can guide you on your boulevard to the ballot.  
  3. Make sure that you know the district in which you reside, as well as the morals, character, and objectives of the candidates running for all of the offices that are up for election in your designated district.

The drumbeat of our government must be played in harmony with the song of the people.

Stay informed. Be active. Be a contributing citizen of the United States. Vote.

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Provoking the vote: Election Season