Get Out, Vote!


DJ McInturff

Rain or Shine Get Out and Vote!

By DJ McInturff, Herrin High School

With attack ads flooding our screens, volunteers knocking on our doors, and annoying signs with random people’s names scattered along nearly every single roadway, it’s definitely election season.  On Tuesday, November 6, voters will head to the polls to cast their ballots in the 2018 midterm elections. This type of election, held halfway between presidential elections, gives the people a chance to make their voice heard in regards to one-third of all U.S. senators, all 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, many governorships, and numerous local officials and judgeships.  On the national level, which is where much of the media has focused its attention, these elections are so important because they will determine which political party– Democratic or Republican– will control both chambers of Congress for the next two years, and therefore the remainder of the current presidential term.

With so much power on the line, candidates and members of both major political parties are committing so much time and effort to various campaigns; meanwhile, the media has dedicated hours of coverage to this highly anticipated election.  Traditionally, only about 40% of the voting eligible population votes in midterm elections. However, this does not appear to be a typical election cycle, with either party predicting major victories up and down the ballot.

Ever since Donald Trump’s victory in the 2016 presidential elections, Democrats across the country have been organizing in their communities in anticipation of a so-called “Blue Wave,” meaning that they are hoping for and predicting that Democratic candidates will win the votes of large chunks of the electorate in the midterms and regain control of the House of Representatives, and maybe even the Senate, as well as offices on both the state and local level too.  But just how motivated are more liberal voters to make their voices heard in November, and why?

“I’m extremely excited to vote,” says senior Reagan Ridgway, whose concerns and ideals align closest to that of the Democratic Party.  Ridgway says that she tends to disagree with the opposing party’s platform on account of its “lack of compassion for others.”

In regards to her enthusiasm this election cycle, Ridgway says “I care more now.”  And she is also predicting a “Blue Wave, I mean people have started paying attention more now.  There will be a lot more people voting Democratic I think.”

Even though Ridgway is excited to make her voice heard this November and to make a small ripple in what she hopes becomes a much larger Blue Wave, and though she knows of a few of the candidates she’ll be casting her ballot for, she’s still not yet positive of everyone who she will be voting for, “I haven’t done my research yet.”

On the other side of the political spectrum, some right-wing pundits are predicting a “Red Wave” with Republican candidates retaining key majorities due to supposedly high levels of enthusiasm amongst the conservative base.  Morgan McKinnies, a senior at Herrin High, says that she identifies as a “conservative Republican,” but does not necessarily sense the makings of a Red Wave, “because it’s not a presidential election and a lot of our candidates aren’t anything controversial.”

However, this supposed lack of excitement on the Republican side has not curbed McKinnies’, nor many other conservatives, support of right wing candidates.  When asked which issues keep her motivated, “I would say immigration laws,” she states, “and conceal and carry.” Furthering her explanation for her support of the Republican party, she says “I don’t feel like we should penalize the wealthy because they made more money and we didn’t.”

In response to the idea of a wave election, “I don’t think it’s true,” says McKinnies, “because so many races are close and I don’t think it’s going to be a wave, I’m afraid it’s going to be much more equal.”  But, sadly for her, McKinnies will not be able to cast her ballot in any of these tight races, because she does not turn 18 until February! “But I’m going to express my views anyway,” reassures the opinionated senior, who says that she’s done plenty of research and plenty of talking in order to make her voice heard.  “If I were voting,” she states, “I would be voting for Bost just to keep some Republicans.”

Here, McKinnies is referencing the highly contested race for the office of U.S. Representative here in Illinois’ 12th District between Republican incumbent Mike Bost and Democratic challenger Brendan Kelly.  This race, with Bost polling at 44%, Kelly at 43%, and 13% of voters undecided according to the New York Times, is one of the closest in the country for a seat in the House of Representatives, which is currently under Republican control, but is the primary target of those pushing for a Blue Wave.  Both campaigns have attracted support and dissent on the national stage, with civil rights hero and former Representative John Lewis and former Vice President Joe Biden traveling to the district to endorse Kelly, and President Donald Trump flying into Murphysboro to rally support for Bost. Obviously, this race is both close enough and important enough for not only local but also national politicians to devote valuable time, support, and dollars to these campaigns.

But do not be confused, this race for representative is not only important because of the coverage it has received on the national stage, but it is so important simply because it is an election, therefore it is opportunity for the voices of every voting age citizen to be heard.  Every election should be this important, and every vote matters, especially when a race is as close as the race here in the 12th district, which could quite possibly come down to just a couple thousand or even a few hundred votes.

Please, if you are 18 or older, make sure that you are registered to vote.  The process is incredibly simple, in fact in Illinois you can register online in under two minutes up to 16 days before the election.  Or, if you are still unregistered but will be eligible to vote by or on November 6, it is also possible to register on the day of the election or during early voting at the county courthouse.  Also easing the process of voter registration in the state of Illinois taking is the new process of automatic voter registration through cooperation with the DMV, however it is still a good idea to check your registration to make sure that it is up to date and so there aren’t any issues.  It is also a good idea to bring a voter ID with you when voting for the first time in order to serve as proof of your identity just in case there was to be an issue.

No matter who you vote for or what you stand for, make sure that you’re registered and cast your own ballot!  If you never make your voice heard, how is our nation ever going to reflect your values? So do your research, make your way to the polls on November 6, and vote in this year’s midterm election!

This story was originally published on Tiger Tattler on November 5, 2018.