Midterm elections break records for youth turnout, voter suppression

The midterm elections of 2018 have encompassed great victories and striking injustices. Record breaking voter turnout and stunning voter suppression made these elections essential to follow and analyze.

Through the use of social media, the Get out to Vote effort this year was extensive. Excitement among student voters seemed to run high, with seniors such as Simone Ashley even participating in early voting. And the enthusiasm was not confined to the walls of Blake as voter participation rates broke records throughout the country. 113 million people voted across the country, making this year the first midterm to exceed 100 million votes in history.

While casting their ballots, students remained informed about cases of voter suppression. “Although it was easy for me to vote, for many others it is not,” says senior Gracie Guidy. “Many people, especially those who are marginalized or economically disadvantaged, are incapable of getting off from work to vote. They also may be misinformed overall about their voting rights.” Guidy’s concerns of obstacles proved to be true, as many across the nation reported being denied their right to vote.

Hundreds of thousands of voter registrations were reportedly discarded, often for trivial reasons such as not matching the exact spelling on official documents (right down to hyphens). This happened most notably in the state of Georgia where 70 percent of voided registrations belonged to African American individuals. What followed was a controversial, competitive race between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp, with the latter ultimately winning the gubernatorial position. The election sparked national attention for its alleged cases of voter suppression.

For the state of Maryland, Governor Larry Hogan was reelected for his second term. Although Republican Hogan holds high approval ratings, even in a state with twice as many Democrats than Republicans, many were taken aback by his win. Many young voters, including Guidy, supported opponent Ben Jealous who presented a more progressive agenda. “I was disappointed in the gubernatorial election. Jealous is an extremely intelligent and hard working man,” says Guidy.

Senior Ivy Cameros was also hoping for a Jealous victory. “Even though I wanted Jealous to win, I hope Hogan will continue to do great things,” Cameros adds.

Although voters aged 18-29 had the greatest increase in turnout, they still remain the lowest-voting group. Students have expressed their desire for this trend to change over the years. “[Voting] is a right that Americans have, especially young people,” says Cameros. “We are the next generation and should decide who will run our community and even our country.”