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Making an informed decision this voting season

by The Stylus
Tue, Nov 13th 2018 07:00 pm
registered for change The push for people to register to vote this year was at an all time high, regardless of the fact that it was not a primary election year. People turned up in droves to ensure their voices would be heard for the midterm elections.

Cartoon Credit: Elliot LaPoint/EDITORIAL CARTOONIST
registered for change The push for people to register to vote this year was at an all time high, regardless of the fact that it was not a primary election year. People turned up in droves to ensure their voices would be heard for the midterm elections. Cartoon Credit: Elliot LaPoint/EDITORIAL CARTOONIST

With a wave of voting registration and a fervor to vote which hasn’t been seen in several decades, this past week was busy for many American citizens. Tuesday, Nov. 6 was a full day of poll coverage by traditional media outlets, social media platforms or merely through word of mouth, as citizens took to local voting sites to choose who would help lead the country for the next several years. 

These elections worked to either place new personnel or maintain already existing persons into office for the local, state and federal offices.  

What makes this year’s elections so enticing is the fact that the country has not had as large a voter turnout as 2018 in previous years. In fact, 2018 saw a record high, with a turnout of approximately 113 million according to fortune.com. This number exceeded the previous record of 100 million, a feit which had never been done. 

Further backing this turnout is coverage comparing the turnout of 2018 to previous years, NPR has revealed the number of eligible voters who actively took on their civil duties rose to 47 percent. This number is the highest to be recorded during the Civil Rights movement during the 60s. With these record breaking highs, it certainly seems there has been a shift in how seriously Americans are taking their voting rights. 

Beyond overarching estimates, minority groups that have not had much traction or input in elections have also become much more active, offering a voice which had scarcely been heard in the past. The Pew Research Center explains while this year saw a large increase in voter participation, so too did the year see a large increase in political divisiveness. The organization’s website went on to explain factors such as gender, level of education and race among others showed stark differences in which minority groups voted for which political party. For example pewresearch.org offers statistics showing most men voted for republican candidates with results showing a 51 percent majority and only 47 percent for the democratic party. Women, on the other hand, voted in favor of the democratic party with a majority of 59 percent and a minority of 40 percent for the opposing party. This difference is represented among ethnic groups as well. White Americans voted mostly republican, with a majority of 54 percent in favor of republicans and a 44 percent minority rate for democrats. In sharp contrast, Black Americans voted for democrats with a 90 percent majority and only nine percent minority. Hispanics had less of an extreme divide with a majority of democratic votes leading 69 percent of the results and 29 percent trailing behind for republicans. Asians also showed a sharp tendency toward democratic candidates with a majority of 77 percent and a minority of 23 percent in favor of republicans. 

As far as education is concerned, the organization showed college educated, white men voted in favor of republicans with a minority of votes at 47 percent; however, non-college educated white men voted in favor of the party with a majority of 66 percent in favor of the republican party. This same turnout is reflected among white, college educated women who had a majority favoring the democratic party with 59 percent of all votes, but non-college educated white women voted in favor of the republican party with 56 percent of the vote.

The results and demographic breakdown of the 2018 results are telling in the fact they highlight the need for Americans to vote consciously and with informed decisions. Following the Presidential elections of 2016, it seems some voters took to the polls with a vengeance this year. 

While it truly is amazing to see so many people actively working to participate in the democratic system that is supposed to separate the United States from the rest of the world, it also is absolutely necessary that participation is done with the utmost sense of responsibility. Too often individuals are influenced by outside factors: news coverage, social media posts or the mere assumptions that are associated with one political party over the other.

 For this reason some voters may base their choices on factors other than their own personal beliefs and understanding. Voting for someone solely because they share the same ethnic background or political party is not enough to make an informed decision. Likewise doing the opposite in hopes of change may not result in the intended outcome. 

While actually taking to the polls and voting in an important and impactful civil duty, the action in and of itself is not enough to foster change or progress. Each individual who can, and especially those who actively vote, must do so with the necessary understanding of candidates they are voting for.

Voters should also work to follow up on elected candidates, stay informed on whether or not their campaign promises have been met or are being worked on.

 Voting is only one part of the equation. Like there is a lot of work to put in prior to making a vote, there is also much work to be done afterward. 

Sites like govtrack.us, house.gov or congress.gov can help citizens keep track of candidates making up different roles in our government and what their work has done. The Stylus would like to remind everyone who voted, as well as those who didn’t, to remember the power of their decisions. 

There are millions in this country who are unable to vote, therefore, those who can must take on the responsibility with care. Regardless of being part of a minority, each vote works as one step toward a greater and more fulfilling government - one chosen by the people. 

This year’s results brought in some record-breaking members as well as numbers. Record breakers such as Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, the first Muslim women to be voted into congress, Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland, the first Native American women to be voted into congress, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Puerto Rican woman and the youngest person to ever be voted into congress have all made it into their respective positions due the results of  this year’s votes.

 The Stylus hopes to see these amazing changes continue to take place within our country and we hope our fellow citizens will continue to carry out their civil duty, stay informed about our government and continue to make educated decisions for the sake of our country’s future.