By Jabari Bruce
Low voter turnout has been a major issue in the American political system. Unfortunately, it appears only now people are beginning to see the value in exercising their right to vote.
Donald Trump was elected president roughly two years ago. According to CNN, only 55 percent of the eligible voting population cast a ballot in the 2016 presidential election. That is the lowest turnout since 1996. Poor voter turnout may have contributed to Donald Trump’s victories.
The midterm elections historically produce even worse voter participation. According to the United States Elections Project, only 36 percent of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2014 midterms.
The 2018 midterm elections are approaching, and some people are doing all that they can to motivate young people, one of the least participatory demographics, to get to the polls. Blair Dimfold, a 34-year-old teacher describes his lesson to his students to encourage them to use their right to vote.
“It is important to vote and I see the younger generation is so “la-di-da” about it. It’s not important anymore,” Dimfold says. “I tell my students that all of their opinions matter. The only way you can express your opinion is voting.”
When asked if he will vote in the midterms, Dimfold replied with enthusiasm, “Of course I am!”
Citizens who failed to participate in the 2016 election are acknowledging the worth their vote would have had. Saluth Bangardi, an undeclared 20-year-old sophomore at LIM College described her decision towards voting.
“No I didn’t vote in that election,” she says. “I really didn’t like either candidate that much. But I can say I didn’t want Donald Trump to win.”
She had reasoned that her vote “did not matter” because of the consist result for New York state in our electoral college. “I felt even if I did vote, New York always is a blue state. So what did it really matter?” Bangardi then replies with regret for not participating in the past election, “Now I see what happened and I am shocked. I really did not expect for Donald Trump to be our president…If I had known he would have won I would have voted.”
Many believe the turnout for this year’s midterm election will be higher than the presidential election’s. Anthony Andrews is the Assistant Director of Student Activities at York College. Andrews obtained his bachelor’s degree in Political Science and his master’s in Public Administration.
When asked about his prediction on the results of voter participation in this upcoming midterm election, he stated, “I think we will have a huge voter turnout.” Dr. Andrews continued his response by addressing the reasoning why the elections will see a growth in ballots. “People are worried over the Trump presidency. Right now, a lot of people have opinions on what is happening in their government.”
He concluded the interview stating, “Regardless if you are on one side or the other, you want your voice to be heard from someone who shares your perspective.”
This midterm election has the potential to flip control of the House of Representatives to Democrats from Republicans. Across the country, the Democratic primary elections show a surge from previous midterms. Pew reports over 10 percent of eligible voters cast a primary ballot in the 31 states to hold elections as of July 27th, up from six percent four years ago.
To liberals, this is a welcome sign. Michelle Jones, 43, of Hollis Hills, Queens says she hopes that change is on the way. “Listen, Trump isn’t the root of the problem, he’s a symptom of it,” she says. “These Republicans want to deny people health care and restrict their ability to vote. If I can do something to advance my own interests, I’m going to do it.”
She went on to voice her distaste for many Democratic candidates but made it clear she preferred them to the Republicans.
The main conclusion of the midterm election is determining who will control the House of Representatives. Currently, there are 240 Republicans and 193 Democrats in the House of Representatives. USA Today recently reported the president’s approval rating below 40 percent. Cummings also states a claim that one poll shows “a majority believe he is unfit for the office”. As a result, many look to the midterms to push more Democratic intuitions into decision making within American politics.