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Politics

Historical Voter Turnout…Let’s Keep it Up

This year alone, many Americans were rushing to register to vote, particularly young, college-aged Americans.  In the past, Americans between the ages of 18-25 have had the highest voter apathy rate in the country.  This is true for many reasons.  Young Americans tend not to care as much about politics as their older counterparts.  Between school and work, young Americans claim to not have the time to get to the polls.

However, recent events have caused more young Americans to not only register to vote, but to take on an advocacy role in politics.  After the shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, many high school and college-aged students began taking on advocacy roles for stricter gun legislation.  It has worked, at least at the state level.  In response to the Parkland shooting, the Florida State Legislature passed laws that prohibited the sale of rifles to anybody under the age of 21 and extended the waiting period to purchase a firearm to three days. This bill was also signed by Governor Rick Scott.

This year’s midterm elections were an anomaly for all, especially voters between the ages of 18-25 years old.  Normally, young voter turnout is the highest during presidential election years.  According to The Hill, voters under the age of 30 surpassed their older counterparts at the polls this year.  Younger voters on both sides of the political spectrum turned up at the polls in record numbers compared to the 2014 midterm elections.  With this surge in younger voters, the Democrats hoped to wash out both chambers of Congress with their “blue wave.”  Younger voters tend to lean more Democrat, possibly contributing to the Democrats taking back the House of Representatives.

Not only have younger voters turned out in record numbers, but so have the overall voting population.  According to NPR, more than 47 percent of eligible voters showed up at the polls.  More people are feeling passionate about politics than ever.  Our current political culture is more polarized than ever, and people tend to vote along party lines, as noted in the most recent election.

Voters are also more passionate to vote for a candidate if a well-known figure endorses him or her.  President Trump held numerous rallies in red states with Democratic senators.  Most notably, he held rallies in support of Senate candidate Rick Scott in Florida, Josh Hawley in Missouri, and Mike Braun in Indiana.  All these senator-elects were able to unseat Democratic incumbents running to keep their seat in the Senate.  President Trump was able to energize Republican voters in these states and even reach out to those who would not have originally voted.

Endorsements could also backfire on a candidate, depending on who is doing the endorsing.  Taylor Swift endorsed former Governor of Tennessee Phil Bredesen for an open Senate seat.  However, he lost to Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn, who was endorsed by President Trump. This could be because voters feel that celebrities are out of touch with society. It could also be a celebrity’s inexperience with politics that could result in their endorsement of a candidate to be worthless or harmful.

Voters have felt more energized than ever to get to the polls.  Even candidates were eager to get their constituents to the polls.  One candidate for New York Governor, Larry Sharpe, has even offered his voters rides to the polls to make them more accessible.  Today, voting is easier than ever.  One can drive, walk, or take public transportation to his or her polling station.  People also can vote in the comfort of their own homes with absentee ballots.