Last week Pennsylvania was in the spotlight for the special election in the 18th district after a congressional member stepping down the months before. The meaning of this election, however, spreads beyond the border of the 18th district as the general public consider this a key indicator for the midterm elections later this year.
This was an especially important election for me personally. I live in the 18th district and was able to vote that night for the Democratic candidate Conor Lamb.
In the weeks leading up to this vote, I had various discussions, watched news reports and saw political ads all aimed at me, a voter. I cannot say how odd it was seeing this election being called on the national news media important.
I found people my age incredibly disinterested from the election, more concerned with homework and last minute study sessions. Continually I stressed the importance of the college vote was to this election to those around me.
Without a high voter turnout, the result statement Washington D.C. got on Tuesday night would have been very different.
The race ended up being extremely close, with Conor Lamb winning by only a few hundred votes. While I watched the coverage of the event, I couldn’t help but be awed a few times at the growing importance of my vote.
I actually felt empowered by my ability to help change just as how every vote counted in this election did, unlike in previous elections in which you could actually watch and see the importance before your eyes.
Yet, as I voted, I instantly became aware that the college vote in my own polling station had not turned out and it seemed remarkable to some at my polling station that anyone who is apart of the college vote showed up.
It got me wondering where exactly was the college vote going that night? If college students aren’t turning out to vote what could that say about the future of the midterm election?
In many democracies, the most important right for the public to use is the right to vote, which is also the first right in any free country. Without this right, you do not have a say in the decisions your country makes.
Despite this fact, only 55 percent of people (of age) participates while 86 percent of that population being registered to vote. This is beyond frustrating in a country that is celebrated for its democracy.
There are several reasons why voter turnout is low, but among the most interesting ones is a lack of interesting or motivation. Often times, during an election people will hear about the lesser of two evils and how their votes do not matter, which discourages people from voting by making them feel unimportant.
People need to elevate voting and remind them just how important this right is. Not everyone has this right, which allows for tyrannies popping up in many countries. America is an utterly unique country in their ability to protect this voting right for over 200 years.
There is some good news, though, as the college vote is currently on the rise. College students voted more in 2016 than they did in 2012, which is still no match for 2008s numbers but clearly on the rise. People have seen too in recent months a great amount of activism among the college-age population for the presidential race.
Special elections and midterm elections are different in comparison and typically voters do not turn out for them. This negligence is a mistake and needs to be rectified as even smaller election contributes to the advancement of progress and community development.
The presidency and the presidential election is no doubt important. However, the White House is not the only important office in the country.
Who represents you in the House of Representatives, the Senate and other state and local positions matter as well. The president cannot manage the entire nation alone. He needs a core base of support in order to create and pass legislation.
If voters do not turn out, people will end up in a situation similar to that of the Obama administration, in which a president with high potentials could not get much done due to a lack of support in the other branches of government.
Obama relied upon college students’ votes to win in 2007 and won them in historic numbers, yet in 2009 he lost control of the House and later lost the Senate. Just imagine how many policies the administration could have brought forward if he had won the support in both of those offices.
If the 2009 midterm election were anything as historic as the one in 2007, the Obama years might have been extremely different.
It seems that the presidential power has distracted voters from the fact that the president cannot do it alone. If you wish for the president policies to continue, college-age voters need to get out and vote for candidates that support the president.
On the flip side, if you wish to block the president’s policies you need to vote for people who will stand against him.
Today the Trump administration has no real opposition to the government. Many people, including myself, consider this a major issue facing the country.
If college-age students wish to make a statement to this presidency, they have to go out and vote. Given the closeness of this recent election,n these seats will not be won back easily. Young people of age need to remember it is important to go and vote.
In truth, the election will not matter in a few months as the district will no longer be there, but my vote made a statement. That’s what was important to me to tell the president and the rest of Washington D.C. that I am unhappy with the current system.
I hope that my peers will turn out in the various elections in the coming months and show to the government how serious they are about making changes.