Change requires intention: Vote!

Although not as publicized as presidential elections, midterm elections are a critical and underrated part of electing congressional representatives in the federal government. The legislature designs, discusses and passes or vetoes national legislation. This November, around 87% of the legislative branch is about to be elected, with all seats in the House of Representatives and one-third of the seats in Senate to be elected. Equally and perhaps more importantly, midterm elections will decide many governor and state legislature races around the nation. As state power grows, the everyday laws that affect you and the community you live in are decided by a network of local elected officials: from state legislature to school boards. Because the states have a considerable amount of power when it comes to deciding policies concerning abortion, migration, etc., there are high stakes for whoever wins a seat. The following are a few issues to watch out for Nov. 8.

Reproductive health: Since the Roe v. Wade overturn, reproductive rights are decided by state powers.  Electing state representatives and governors who are pro-choice is one of the most assured ways to defend reproductive rights. Notably, Michigan’s Proposal 3 aims to add  reproductive freedom to the state constitution. Other states, including California, Kentucky, Montana and Vermont, have similar ballot initiatives. 

The climate crisis is already underway, but our policy response is lagging.”

Climate policy: The climate crisis is already underway, but our policy response is lagging. The Inflation Reduction Act made a first step to invest $369 billion in climate issue solutions and environmental well-being. Unfortunately, it’s far from the solutions we need. Increasing amounts of evidence show how the way our society treats the environment jeopardizes human health and safety; for example,  ingesting microplastics, food shortages, unclean water, etc. Representatives that are conscious of the environmental footprint of their policies are critical to secure sustainable and environmentally friendly policies that take care of the planet. 

Education and diversity: Candidates who repress the diverse nature and character of the U.S. population are also running for office. In what some call a  “culture war,” state legislatures, school boards and governors are calling for policies that put restrictions on educating and exploring issues faced by LGBTQ+ people and people of color. In education systems, a record number of books (1,648) were banned in the 2021 school year. The two largest common themes in banned books were queer themes and/or prominent POC characters. Unreasonable immigration policies are being popularized, such as a judge order to block the termination of Title 42 or spending millions in state dollars to send misinformed immigrants to ill-prepared sanctuary areas.

The future of elections is also at stake this Nov. 8.”

Honorable elections: The future of elections is also at stake this Nov. 8. What kind of environment will our political community be if election skeptics and deniers are elected to state legislatures and school boards or governor and secretary of state offices? Many Republicans running for office are skeptical (if not in denial) of the 2020 election results. Candidates for the positions of Secretary of State have considerable power and direction over election management. Because the states have the most power when deciding election policies, the candidates we elect to local offices have a large impact on how elections are held and decided nationwide. Our local representatives are supposed to make voting accessible and unbiased for all constituents, rather than purporting a false narrative of widespread election fraud. 

Other than the issues in this article, there are a myriad of other issues important to the livelihoods of everyone in and out of the U.S. There are no excuses for registered and eligible voters to not vote during the midterms – especially with absentee and early ballot casting, the availability to check what’s on your ballot online and the digital presence of candidates running for offices.  Who will we choose to lead us into the future? Or maybe it’s a question of who we permit to represent us. No party is perfect, but when voting we must consider all issues and consider all proposed solutions. Do we let election deniers, climate emergency skeptics and those who fail to respect U.S. diversity represent us? Whatever we decide will be reflected this Nov. 8.