There are many voices out there telling you to vote. You have the T.V ads and signs on the street. On campus, there’s that annoying girl shouting from a table at you (sorry not sorry, that’s actually me). But, if they haven’t gotten through to you then let me give it another shot from a non-partisan and college point of view.
According to PBS.org on September 12th, 2018, there are 35 Senatorial seats up, all 435 House of Representatives seats are at stake and 36 Governor positions are being elected. This of course leaves out the many local level representatives who will be on your ballots on November 6th as well. Who fills these seats is going to be decided on in less than 48 hours. It is important that everyone shows up and says who they want in office.
Tufts University’s National Study of Learning, Voting and Engagement shows that the average of student turnout of American universities in 2014, the last midterm election, was 18.8 percent. At JMU, it was 8.8%.
8.8% percent of us, at JMU got a say in our representatives. Thus, for the past two years legislation was passed on our behalf and that impacts all of us, and 8.8% chose not to say who they wanted making those decisions.
This percentage is miniscule compared to the percentage that vote in the general election during presidential election years. I’ve got news for you, the president is one person. He’s got a lot of power, yes. But, it is all checked (remember checks and balances people) by 535 people in Congress and also doesn’t have control over a lot of law decisions made on the state level. I mean, the 10th Amendment of the Bill of Rights in 1791 states it best:
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the states, are reserved to the states respectively, or to the people.”
That is anything not stated as a power of Congress or the President, is the state’s.
Protection of college dreamers, transparency on tuition increases and hate crime legislation are all topics of bills voted on by the state level. To go a little further, I’ll remind my college aged audience of who has been on trend deciding marijuana legalization laws. The state governments have been opening that up to their constituents and not the federal government.
To get a little dramatic, the founding fathers of our country meant to have the supreme power be in the hands of the people. They set up our representative government to be a mirror of what we say as voters. No matter your major, your career or your passions about politics, being civically engaged during any election is your duty to put a say in about where you live.
Now, onto Election Day. On the 6th, this Tuesday, the James Madison Center for Civic Engagement and Dukes Vote are doing a lot to help you get energized for the election. We have a Party at the Precinct at the convocation center, an Election Watch Party (7-10 pm, Madison Union Ballroom) and a Making Sense of the Midterms event the next day.
Unless you live on-campus, you will be voting somewhere other than the convocation center, so please go on the VA Department of Elections’ website to see where you vote. Also, see this graphic below.
Don’t be a bystander. Midterms matter. Your voice matters and go out there and use it.
For more info, go to jmu.edu/vote to find the Election Central page. There is also a nonpartisan voter guide for Harrisonburg voters.