Tahir: Voter turnout for midterm election representative of democratic progress

Excitement surrounding voting in the midterm elections has returned, thanks to the extremely divided political climate. The voter turnout in Geneseo was no exception (Tom Arthur/Creative commons).

The United States midterm elections have finally passed. After months of candidates campaigning, and voter groups encouraging people to register, Americans headed out to polls to cast their votes in a non-presidential election with a notable high voter turnout. 

It’s difficult to assess how galvanized voters are nationwide based on online articles, but the difference is apparent in terms of the local community. 

During the last local election for primaries, there were only 24 total voters for the on-campus polling center, according to a previous article in The Lamron, despite voter encouragement efforts from the voter task-force committee. 

Despite all of the information available about primaries, there was hardly any discourse on campus, which seemed troubling with midterms approaching. 

Within the course of a month that completely changed, however, and students began to actively discuss the importance of voting from classrooms to social media and during informal conversations. Students lined up to send in absentee ballots or attend panels hosting local candidates. 

This much-needed activity in a small town is representative of a nationwide shift in attitudes towards voting. In the last midterm election in 2014, 27.4 million ballots were cast. This year, 38.8 voters have cast their vote so far, a considerable difference in four months, according to the The Telegraph

There is a lot of speculation behind what constituted this change, but the election of Donald Trump is undeniably one of them. One of the great accomplishments of this administration has been its ability to galvanize people, especially the younger generation, to go out and vote not just in presidential elections, but for elections like the midterms that target the U.S. House of Representatives and Congress. 

The administration has been accused by multiple agencies, including the intelligence sector, of disseminating inaccurate information and perpetuating “fake news,” which spreads unjustified hatred and mass hysteria amongst certain population groups. 

Again and again, this administration has tackled issues sensitive to the public with a lack of tact, has launched smear campaigns against various minority groups including black people, Muslims, women, people in the LGBTQ+ community, people with disabilities and more. 

The administration has shown disregard for opposition, alienated our most important allies, defended human rights abusers, attacked the integrity of free press and prioritized economic interest over morality and the people. 

These issues persist at the local level as well. Local politicians that have faced no contender feel comfortable in abusing the power that comes with their position. 

Rep. Congressman Chris Collins, whose district includes Geneseo, was indicted earlier this year with federal charges of insider trading. The congressman is never present at his own office to answer to the people he is supposed to represent. 

Local assemblyman Joseph Errigo was charged by the FBI on federal accounts of bribery, according to The Livingston County News

Both of these candidates were on the ballot for re-election this election, and Collins was re-elected, albeit with a small margin, but nevertheless will proceed to stay in office for another four years. 

Although it’s disappointing to see voters ignore the charges against Collins, it is still important that he will be in a House full of Democrats. 

These small losses are still insignificant when looking at the bigger picture. Colorado just elected its first openly gay governor. Over 100 women were elected, two of them were Muslims, two Latinas and two Native Americans. 

This election was important for showing the administration that they cannot infringe on the rights of the people in their communities without expecting retribution. 

Democracy is ideally determined by the people. The United States claims to be a prime example of a working democratic system. People are partaking in their constitutional right to vote because they’ve realized their voice matters; their vote matters. 

Thank you to the Trump administration for allowing the people to see their country and their rights being taken away from them. Thank you for being the reason millions of voters cast their votes at polling stations around the country. 

The past few months of protests, petitions and public condemnation amount to participation in this election and letting Congress know the people have a voice. We are tired of hearing excuses and seeing corruption blatantly persist and will take matters of this country into our own hands.