The Responsibility of Voting Falls on Us

By: Ben Kane (Print Editor in Chief)

November 6th, 2018: a day that will undoubtedly be one of the most important days in America’s history and another demonstration of the power of the democracy we live in— a day that will set the course of the American government for the foreseeable future, and a day whose results will impact the lives of every American citizen.

In the past, Americans have downplayed the role of non-presidential elections, and the numbers show. In the 2014 midterm elections, only 36.6 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot, the lowest since 1942. Unfortunately, this is not a stark comparison when put next to the amount of voters in the presidential elections. In 2012, 54.9 percent of the 235 million eligible citizens voted. In 2016, the year Donald Trump was elected in what has been labeled as the most heated and polarizing presidential election in history, 55.5 percent of the 250 million eligible voters submitted a ballot.

Like many of the nation’s problems, young people look this off as an issue for the adults. However, this demographic is the largest offender in failing to speak their minds when given the sacred opportunity to do so. Only 26 percent of the electorate under 40 years of age voted during the 2014 midterm elections, a ten percent drop from the 36 percent (still not a number to brag about) who voted in the presidential election two years before. To decrease the demographic window to a smaller range more applicable to teens, 21 percent of citizens in between 18 and 29 voted in the 2014 midterms. That’s barely over 1/5th.

The midterm elections are crucial in determining the position of the federal government for the next two years. During these elections, all 435 members of the House of Representatives are up for reelection in their districts, with Republicans holding a 43-seat majority. However, this majority is vulnerable to flip, and top elections forecasters such as 538 and RealClearPolitics are predicting that Democrats will secure a small majority, with many seats still toss-ups.

In the Senate, 33 seats (along with two special elections) are up for reelection. 24 of these seats are currently held by Democrats or independents that caucus with them, and the other 9 are held by Republicans. The Hill forecasts 8 of these Democratic seats are vulnerable to flip, and one Republican seat (along with the empty seat left by Republican Sen. Flake of Arizona) are at risk as well. Although the numbers seem miniscule in comparison to the 100 total seats in the Senate, here’s the kicker: Republicans hold 51 of these seats, compared to the Democrats’ and independents’ combined 49. That means the left only requires one seat flip in their direction in order to shed the minority label, and two to become the majority. On the other side, Republicans are relying on a couple of seat flips in their direction to strengthen their majority in the Senate and enable them to be able to support President Trump’s actions and decisions, such as passing the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court.

Now, here’s where you come in.

In 2016, Youtube created a viral voting registration campaign, called #voteIRL (vote In Real Life), where they conducted a study concluding that it only took one minute 34 seconds to register to vote. That’s correct. It takes one minute and 34 seconds to fill out a registration form and enable yourself to get your mouth heard at the next election.

If you’re over 18, you are eligible to vote. It’s as easy as filling out a form online. In Massachusetts, you don’t even have to be 18 to register. As long as you are 18 years old on election day (November 6th, 2018), you can submit a ballot.

It’s safe to say that the past two years have been the most tumultuous, controversial, and divisive years in American political history. If you are one of the people who have an opinion about anything regarding the political system, it is your duty as an American to speak up and say it.

When you don’t vote, you forfeit your ability to make an impact on governmental matters that will directly affect you. Especially during a time with a nominee to the Supreme Court and an investigation into Russian meddling of the presidential election, Congress is in a place where they must act as representatives to the American people. If you don’t vote, you lose your chance to be represented in some of the most important times in American history.

Eligible voters can register up until Wednesday, October 17th for the midterm elections. The Sharon town clerk is present at school outside of the cafeteria during lunch blocks 2 to 3 times a year and has the proper paperwork to help eligible students register to vote.

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