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Plaid Truth

Get Out and Vote

Alex E, Editor in Chief

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One of the most important events for every American citizen is coming up soon, and it’s not a tax deadline or the 4th of July, it is the midterms. Many of you may be wondering what the midterms are, why are they so important, why you should show up to vote, and how to vote on November 6. The answers to those questions and more lie ahead. But first and foremost, the most important thing you need to know is that anyone 18 and older on Election Day is eligible to vote, and 16 to 17 year olds are able to preregister to vote for the 2020 election.

The United State’s midterms are one of our national elections that alternates every two years with the presidential election. At each midterm, all 435 seats of the House of Representatives, one-third of the Senate seats, more than half of the state governors, and many state legislators are up for election and reelection. In addition to those federal and state elections, there are also many local elections for mayors and other local officials, and a wide variety of citizen initiatives at the polls. Also, many special elections are held in conjunction with the regular midterms so other officials may be elected into partial terms. Unlike Presidential elections that use the electoral college to decide the winner, all elections during the midterms will be won by the popular vote.

With all the initiatives and various seats up for election, it is understandable for any adult to be confused on the importance of the midterms in the grand scheme of United States politics. The most important aspect of the midterms is its ability to wildly change the political landscape of the US for the next two years, and potentially affect United States politics for many years to come. Its significance stems from the fact that in almost every midterm, a greater number of elected officials are voted in from the opposite party than the President’s. This can cause a change to which  party has control of the legislature. It often creates a major roadblock for the agenda the president tries to pursue during the second half of their term. Those political control changes can affect issues such as abortion, gun control, Medicare, LGBTQ+ rights, education, and taxes. In addition, House and Senate committee’s leadership, which are run by the majority party, could be changed, resulting in any number of changes from environmental policies to veterans affairs reform and beyond. Another reason midterms are so important is that they can control which presidential nominations for federal office get approved. With positions like Supreme Court Judges and Directors of Intelligence Agencies up for grabs throughout a President’s term, the ability to accept or deny a nomination can greatly affect the country.

Even with all that information, I’m sure many of you are still wondering why you should go vote. You may say that your vote won’t matter, or you’re not interested in politics. Maybe you think that registering to vote is a lot more work than it’s worth, or even that none of the candidates reflect your views. The right to vote is given by three constitutional amendments; the 15th, 19th, and 26th amendments. Those amendments require that voting rights cannot be abridged on account of race, color, previous condition of servitude, sex, or age for those 18 and above. Before the passage of those amendments, only white men who were 21 years old could vote. It is important that you take advantage of that right that many of your ancestors might not have had. If you think your vote won’t matter then you’re incorrect. Many elections are won by a couple hundred or thousand votes, from voters like you. Also, going out to vote and supporting the candidates of your choice, even if they don’t win, reminds the politicians that they work for us, the United States citizens. Their ability to govern depends on our approval of them and how they represent our views as constituents. If you are not interested in politics, that is okay, but you must remember that almost every aspect of your life, from school and work to marriage, food, and travel are either under control of, or heavily influenced by, the American government and its policies. So, you have every right to decide not to vote, but you must know that the results of the election will affect you whether you voted or not. If you think that registering to vote is a lot of work, you’re wrong. Registering can be done easily from your computer, via mail, or in person in very little time. Just your personal information is needed, so ease of registration is no excuse not to go vote. If you don’t believe that either the Democratic or Republican parties fit your political views, then there still may be options available to you. Other options include many independently running politicians and third-party candidates from parties like the Green Party or the Libertarian Party. Or, if no candidate appeals to you, you can choose the lesser of the two evils and vote for whomever you think would be most likely to work towards your views than the other. What is apparent now more than ever is that each and every one of you should go out and vote. If you don’t, you’ll have no one else to blame but yourself if the USA goes down a path you don’t want it to go.

By now you know what the midterms are, why the midterms are so important to the country, and why you should go vote, but now the most important part remains; how to vote. First and foremost before being able to vote, you are required to register with the United States Government. Luckily in California, you have the ability to register to vote either online, by mail, or in person. To register to vote online, go to www.registertovote.ca.gov and follow the instructions the page gives you. To register to vote by mail, you must print and fill out the National Voter Registration Form and send the completed and signed form to your local election official. To register to vote in person, contact your local office for information on when and where to register to vote. The current deadlines for registration are as follows: online – Monday, October 22, by mail – postmarked by Monday, October 22, and in person – completed by November 6 to be able to vote in this year’s midterms and any following election. Second, educate yourself on the candidates, their individual views, accomplishments, and political experience, so that you can be an educated voter by the time you’re at the polls. But, be careful while searching the web for information on the candidates. If you’re not, you might come across an article with a bias for or against a candidate, which can misinform you and affect your votes in the election. If you or a family member either don’t know English, or would find it easier to have information in another language, the California Secretary of State website has voter information in 9 languages. The polling booths should have ballots in those languages as well. Third, find out where your polling booth will be before Election Day so you are prepared and can schedule the time to vote on your day. Your polling booth location will be printed on the county voter information guide you receive from your county elections official prior to an election. You may also contact your local county elections office for polling place information. Finally, on Election Day go to the polls and vote! All polling places will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. so there’s plenty of time to vote!  But, if you can’t find the time, are out of town, or otherwise unable to make it to the polling booths, voting can be done through the mail. In order to vote by mail, you must either fill out a Vote by Mail application and turn it in online no later than 15 days before the election. Or, you may complete the vote-by-mail ballot application that is included in your county voter information guide, which your county elections official will mail to you prior to each election. The vote-by-mail application can be found online on the California Secretary of State’s website. Don’t worry if you won’t be turning 18 until after the election, because you can still pre-register to vote anytime after your 16th birthday, so you’re already prepared for your first election after you turn 18. To pre-register, follow all of the steps above, but make sure to mark on the form that you are pre-registering to vote! Another important but often overlooked fact is that if your address, name, or political affiliation has changed, you should update your voter registration to reflect it. The change is important as you may not be able to vote for local officials if your address hasn’t been updated. Also, you will not be able to vote if your voter registration and DMV names do not match.

Don’t forget that every vote counts including yours, no matter your ethnicity, religion, political party, gender, financial situation, or sexual orientation! So, participate in the American Democratic process! Show up at the polls and vote on November 6. You won’t regret it.

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