Why You NEED to Vote in the Midterm Elections

In the last few months, front yards have been strewn with signs for people of whom many of us have never heard. Who are these people and why does it even matter? Because these people will decide your future – how many taxes you pay, how expensive your medical care is, whether women receive equal pay, the policies around student loans – all issues that literally impact our daily lives. These are signs for candidates like Beto O’Rourke, Ted Cruz, Colin Allred, Lisa Luby Ryan, all of whom are running for office in the upcoming Midterm elections on November 6. Midterm elections occur every four years, in the middle of a president’s term, and they are the opportunity for United States citizens to elect an entirely new House of Representatives, and about 1/3 of the United States Senate. It is also when most states elect their new governors and state legislators. There are also a lot of cities that elect new mayors and other offices, as well as vote on important bills and initiatives. Needless to say, the Midterms are important

If you kept up with the 2016 Presidential election, you’ll know a lot of people protested the idea of the Electoral College, which is a group of people who vote on behalf of each states’ citizens in order to elect the new president. People protested because sometimes, as was the case in the last election, the Electoral College votes for one candidate, while the popular vote leans towards another candidate. This can cause frustration and confusion, and it often leads people to avoid voting altogether because they feel their vote won’t count. But that is not the case in Midterm elections. There is no electoral college in the Midterms. What does that mean? YOUR VOTE IS THE SINGLE DECIDER! 

 

 

Image via Fairvote.org

 

The above infographic shows that Midterm voter turnout was below 40 percent in 2014, which is abysmal, especially for a country whose citizens post on Facebook, Instagram and all over the Internet about how upset they are with the current political situation. The only way to truly make a difference is to get out to vote on November 6. 

I understand that a lot of people do not feel inclined to vote because they don’t know much about who’s running or don’t know where to cast their ballot, or simply haven’t gotten around the registering. Unfortunately for you, those are not good excuses. We have literally hundreds of resources at our fingertips with all of those answers. 

If you are voting in Dallas, Dallas County Votes is a great resource for everything from polling locations, early voting, sample ballots and more. 

In Texas, we have a few extremely important races. Our governor, Greg Abbott (Republican), is currently up for re-election against Democratic candidate Lupe Valdez, who used to be the Sheriff of Dallas and is the first Latina and openly gay person nominated as Democratic candidate for Governor in Texas. Ted Cruz (Republican), one of Texas’s two Senators, is running for re-election against Beto O’Rourke, who serves in the House of Representatives for Texas’s 16th District (El Paso area). In the 32nd Congressional District, covering a huge portion of Dallas, including SMU, Democrat Colin Allred, a civil rights attorney and former NFL player, is running against current Congressman Pete Sessions. These races are essential because they will shape Texas’s role in the United States, as well as the future of our state for the next four or more years.

So why am I pushing all of this? Because voting is one of the beautiful checks and balances that keeps our government functioning properly. Because Texas, and the rest of the U.S, has notoriously low voter turnout rates. Because there are very few legitimate excuses for not voting. If you have an exam that morning, vote in the afternoon. If you have work, go before work. If you’re not registered yet, get registered now (the deadline to register is October 9). If you really have no time on November 6, vote early (early voting starts 22). If you feel your vote won’t count, you’re wrong. If you need a ride to the polls, email me. Because not voting isn't protesting, and it’s not even an “opt-out,” it is simply surrender. Voting is how we, as citizens, voice our opinion. Your ballot can determine the future of this country, and that is not an exaggeration.  

So let’s get out to vote on November 6!