Vote … voting … voted!

Jalen Byrd | Staff Writer

image1-12HU students stand in line to vote at Phoebus High School. | Jordan McKinney

November 6.

That date had been repeated all over campus, on the news, on social media and from our parents: Election Day!

This week’s election was, arguably, one of the most important elections our generation would witness and participate in.

This is our time. Our voices now weigh in on how our country is run, and by whom. It seems as if student government members and student volunteers walked around campus every day, asking students if they had registered to vote. Hopefully everyone who was eligible answered “yes.”

The midterm elections took place in the middle of President Donald Trump’s first term. In this election, one-third of the seats in the Senate were up for re-election, and all seats in the House of Representatives were up for re-election.

“But how important could this election really be if Trump is still going to be in office for another two years?” said Talaya Hager, a second-year biology pre-med major from Washington, D.C.

The results of this election determine how much power Trump will have. The House of Representatives currently houses a Republican majority, a majority from Trump’s own party.

Democrats seized the House majority Tuesday in, as the Associated Press reported “a suburban revolt that threatened what’s left of the president’s governing agenda.”

However, the AP added, Republicans gained ground in the Senate and preserved key governorships.

State legislative elections are not only important for state level policies but also for the federal government. These votes determine the laws for abortion rights, the future of Medicare, education, labor rights, taxes and just about any other policy you can think of.

That says a lot about how important this election was.

How were students supposed to vote in their state and local elections on Election Day if they go to school out of state? Simple answer: absentee voting.

State governments recognize that sometimes people can’t make it to their home states on Election Day. This is why voters have the option of mail in ballots before Election Day for those unable to vote at home.

A lot of people came to campus urging everyone to register to vote in Virginia. But that is not the only option. Students still could vote in their home state. A lot of students may not stay in Virginia after graduation. So, it makes sense to use an absentee ballot to vote in these instances. In fact, it might be a better idea for some, especially for those who live in a swing state.

Aaron Smith, a third-year kinesiology major from Alexandria, Virginia, was asked how he felt about voting and if he had planned to vote.

“I hate it,” Smith said. “I really do not understand the process. Our votes do not matter. … Just like our last presidential election, Hillary Clinton won the popular vote, but Trump still became president. Someone please explain that. It buckles down to the ‘electoral votes,’ which we have no control over.”

Caleb Thompson, a third-year computer science major from Prince George’s County, Maryland, responded to Smith.

“You sound ridiculous,” Thompson said. “Our people for decades fought and died for us to have the rights to vote. … Literally, lives were lost so our people could vote, and you are not even going to vote?”

Thompson, frustrated and disappointed, left the room shaking his head.

He does raise an interesting point.

The Fifteenth Amendment of the United States, established in 1870,  states, “The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”

This nation’s ancestors sweat, bled, fought, and died so that we would be citizens and have a voice in who governs our country.

The Nineteenth Amendment of the United States, established 50 years later in 1920, affirmed that “the right of citizens to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.”

Some members of this generation fail to realize the sacrifices that have been made.

More and more do and are exercizing their right.

Preliminary results from ABC exit polls suggested voters ages 18 to 29 would make up 13 percent of the overall electorate in this year’s midterms, up from 11 percent in 2014. While early voting across every age group increased compared with the 2014 midterms, theatlantic.com reported, the surge was most pronounced among voters ages 18 to 29. More than 3.3 million voters from that group cast their votes early, a 188 percent increase from 2014, according to data from TargetSmart, a political-data-analysis firm.

The outcome of the midterm election could mean big changes for the nation and for this generation.

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