On November 8th, American citizens will head to the polls to vote for the future President of America, but that’s not all. People will also be voting for U.S. Senators and Representatives, State Senators and Representatives, and in some cases, local school board members as well. It’s important to remember that there are other positions up for election that are just as important as the seat of President. That’s not to say that the presidential election isn’t important. Whoever is elected president will lead our country for at least the next four years and will have the ability to sign or veto any law that is placed before them. They also have the ability to nominate the Supreme Court justice, who will replace former Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. On March 16th, President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to replace Justice Scalia. However, the Republican-led Senate has refused to hold a vote regarding his nomination. This shows the importance of the United States Congress and therefore how it is just as important to vote for your Senator and Representative as it is to vote for the future President.
Eighth grade history taught us how checks and balances work within the United States government. If Congress proposes a law that the President doesn’t approve of, the law can be vetoed. If a law is vetoed, Congress still has the ability to override that veto with 2/3 support in both the House and the Senate. Congress has more power than people usually think, which is why it is extremely important to know your Senator and Representative. This election year, in addition to the Presidential election, 34 seats within the Senate are up for election, and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for election.
For the past four years, the Republican Party has ruled Congress, as they hold a majority within the House and the Senate. This, coupled with a Democratic President, has created a standstill within the United States government. In order to flip control in the House, the Democratic Party needs to pick up 30 seats – a difficult task, especially since Presidential election years tend to result in smaller changes to House partisan balance. In terms of the Senate, the Democratic Party will need to gain five seats in order to take control, another difficult task as Republican incumbents hold a majority of the seats up for election.
The Presidential Election is important, but so are the House and Senate elections. While the President may be the “face” of the Untied States, Congress is the backbone. Thirty-four states have Senators up for election, and each and every one of us has a House Representative up for election. It is our duty as American citizens to be aware of who these people are. Inform yourself so that on November 8th, you can make an informed decision and vote for a person who can represent your views and values within Congress.
(Remember that in order to vote, you must be registered! Registration Deadlines are quickly approaching; make sure you’re registered to vote!)
Senate seats up for election: http://www.periodicalpress.senate.gov/reelection-2016/