While most people like to believe that a majority of students on this campus are doing their civic duty to participate in democracy, the reality is not so ideal. In the 2016 Presidential Election, according to the NSLV Campus Report, 755 Batesies voted, and 1,231 people registered out of the 1,734 people who were eligible to register.
If these numbers blow over your head, just remember this: we, the students of an institution that prides itself on engagement with the community, have failed to exercise our right to vote. But now we have a second chance: the midterm elections.
The deadline to register via mail in Maine is October 16. Absentee ballots need to be ordered as soon as possible. Early voting begins on October 8, and election day is on November 6.
This year, one-third of the Senate, the entire House of Representatives (435 seats), 36 governorships, and over 6,000 state legislators are up for re-election. Whichever party holds the house has the higher chance of passing legislation on behalf of their ideals. Currently, the Republican party holds the entire house, and the consequences of this have been painfully apparent in the past few days.
If any of you are shocked by the nomination of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court, then you understand the point I am making. The Senate Committee has a Republican majority, which made it almost impossible for any Democrat to find leeway in choosing the Supreme Court Justice.
Taking back the House, however, is no easy task. In the past 25 years, it has only happened three times, and projections of the midterms show that Republicans will maintain control of the Senate, although the House could flip. Not only is a Democratic majority highly possible, but it is comforting for Democrats to know that politicians are refusing to yield to the bullying and explosive decisions of a Republican House
If you have any legitimate policy grievances with the Trump administration, than you already hold enough information to make an educated vote. If you have taken any of the policies laid down in the past few years as a personal affront, from the decision to leave the Paris Climate Agreement to his opinions on abortion or gun control, than this election is for you. Roe v. Wade is under threat. The environment is being brutalized to the point of no return. A gun epidemic is shaking the nation. Tribalism has become so apparent that the hatred for the “other” has grown to a dangerous level.
If you care the slightest about any of these issues, then not voting in the midterms would be an egregious mistake. To believe that the legislation passed in the House or the policies advocated by governors and state legislators won’t affect you is foolish. Whether you are voting in Maine or absentee in your home state, these elections will affect your way of life in the near future.
There is no shortages of elections to be excited about. Jared Golden, a Bates alum, is running for Congress here in Maine on a platform of universal health care. Dozens of politicians running for Congress are advocating for stricter gun laws that will reduce the amount of firearms in people’s pockets. A Democratic sweep could push this country towards more liberal policies that will not only affect our lives, but affect the way people view government itself.
Our votes are our voices. They can bring down political giants and end the suffering of thousands. My own vote may feel like one minuscule voice among millions, but at least I am making a noise and not staying silent. My vote is my voice, and I intend to use it.