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Why You Should Vote in the Midterm Elections

By Natalie Cheyette

 

Illustration by Natalie Cheyette

It may seem too soon to start thinking about the 2018 midterm elections. However, something important is going to happen that has never happened in any national election previously. On November 6, 2018, freshly-graduated d.tech alumni will take to the polls for the first time. Here’s some important info for these soon-to-be-new-voters.

What are the midterm elections?

When most people think of U.S. elections, they think of the “main event”: the presidential election. However, the midterm elections, which take place halfway through a presidential term, are just as important. After all, the U.S. government was designed as a  separation of powers. All three branches of government– legislative, executive, and judicial– hold relatively equal power, including the power to check the others. While the executive branch (president) is important, it is curbed by the judicial (Supreme Court) and legislative (Congress) branches. The midterm election is about either replacing or retaining seats in Congress, which, as you can see, holds as much power over the fate of the country as the president.

The length of a term in the Senate is six years, and in the House of Representatives it’s two years. This means that every two years, all 435 seats in the House are up for election, while in the Senate, the amount varies. In 2018, people will elect 34 Senate seats. State governors are also up for election. In California, the voting total comes to 55: 53 representatives, one senator, and the governor. That’s a lot of people, all heavily influencing both the country’s future and yours.

So who’s voting?

During the 2014 election, only 36.4% of voting-eligible people in the US turned out to vote, and just 17% of 18-24 year olds. In California, only 42.2% of people overall voted, and a mere 8.2% of 18-24 year olds voted. People (and apparently young people especially) just don’t show up for the midterm elections, despite their being so important. So, during a FIT period, I went around to ask a few people whether they were voting.

Most of the people I talked to said they were planning on voting. When asked why,  Amy Natarajan said, “I am now eligible to vote and it is important that our generation should have a voice in change.” Or, as Sam Colman put a little more colorfully, “So I can have a little part in fixing the hellhole this country’s gonna be in.” In other words, they are voting because they want to affect change in the country.

Others were not so keen. Fiona Cheung stated she wouldn’t participate in the midterms. She expressed disinterest in the process, saying, “I know this sounds really bad, but I don’t really care about politics. And I know that ‘every vote counts,’ but I don’t really care.” That is, she believes that the election is only for people who care enough about politics to go to the trouble of voting. And 91.8% of young California voters apparently agree with her.

If so many people don’t vote, why should I?

No matter your political affiliation, your vote really does matter. It’s the difference between handing the control of your future to complete strangers and taking control yourself. The whole point of d.tech is that students get a say in how the school runs. Why let go of that after you leave? Vote in the midterm elections.

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