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Participate in democracy — vote

UP graphic by Claire Robinson
UP graphic by Claire Robinson

As the midterm elections loom, people are double checking their voting locations. Local organizations are educating and mobilizing the public, and on Lamar’s campus, one can’t walk far without seeing a campaign button or overhearing a political discussion. However, inevitably, someone will sign off by saying, “I’m not into politics.”

Traditionally, voter turnout for midterm elections is low. According to the Pew Research Center, in the 2008 presidential election, 57.1 percent of people 18 or older in the United States voted. Only two years later, there was a 36.9 percent voter turn-out for the midterm elections. In the 2012 presidential election, the voting numbers rose again to 53.7 percent. This is a pattern that can be reasonably expected to repeat this year.

Without a unifying top-of-the-ticket race, people tune out — the midterms are not as “sexy” as a presidential election. There is not that single focus that captures the major news networks.

But still, it is important to participate in the midterm elections. Democracies require engagement, and in a representational democracy, the onus of voting falls directly on the general public to employ representatives who will serve us.

It is rare that the power of all three branches of government is concentrated in one party — Republicans — as it is now. Democracies require compromise to best serve Texas’ diverse citizenry. Compromise can only be achieved when both parties have the influence to negotiate. If the public is exhausted from policy that directly affects them but does not represent their values, it can be amended by voting politicians into office that align with their leanings.

Some people, especially in states strongly loyal to one party, such as red-state Texas, choose not to vote because they do not believe their one vote can make a difference. However, voting trends are changing. In the 2016 election, Millennials and Generation X voters outnumbered Baby Boomers for the first time. This difference will continue to grow as Boomers age. Gen-Xers, who were affected by the Parkland, Fla. school shooting, and the activism that followed, seem to be more progressive and optimistic about their ability to create change.

The Pew Research Center did a survey that showed “voter enthusiasm” for this midterm season is higher than it has been in over 20 years, with most voters considering their vote “for” or “against” President Trump. This is essential to maintain accurate representation, not only in Congress, but in our local elections.

We should educate ourselves before Election Day, Nov. 6. Most candidates have websites or are featured on their political party’s websites, and local news will cover debates and events which are usually free.

A complete list of candidates is available at On the Jefferson County Elections website, citizens can check their voter registration, find polling places, and make sure they are bringing acceptable ID.

Make a voting plan. Schedule the day and time and know which polling place will be open nearest your home or work. Remember to bring ID. Plan to carpool with friends or coworkers. We need to be accountable to ourselves, our communities and our future.

If not our vote, then whose will be cast?

Story by Claire Robertson, UP contributor

Category: Opinion