JACKSONVILLE, Fla.— As students at Jacksonville University conquer midterm exams, there is another type of midterm coming just around the corner.
Midterm elections will take place on Nov. 6, with early voting running from Oct. 22 through Nov. 4.
The Florida election will determine who will hold the positions of state governor, state Cabinet, legislators, local representatives, and senator. The main focus lies on the vote for the governor and Senate.
For the Senate, current Republican Gov. Rick Scott is looking to unseat Democratic Sen. Bill Nelson.
The race for governor includes Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum, a Democrat, and U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis, a Republican.
In addition to voting for offices, there will also be measures on the ballot pertaining to the Florida Constitution.
Currently, the Republicans hold control of the House and Senate.
Michael Pomante, an assistant professor of political science at Jacksonville University, says that if current trends hold true, it can be expected for the Republicans to lose at least some control in Congress.
“As far as national trends go, it is quite often the case that the incumbent party loses seats in both the House and the Senate,” he says. “So, a lot of people are predicting and expecting the Republicans to lose at least control of the House, and questions about whether or not the Republicans will lose the Senate is debatable. Some people think they will lose the Senate, others don’t.”
In addition, Pomante says that the Democrats have more seats up for reelection in the Senate than do Republicans.
Voting is the peoples’ way of having a voice in politics. Of course, not everyone casts a ballot.
According to a Harvard Institute of Politics poll, actual turnout of those under 30 has been about 26 points lower than the turnout rate of those those 60 and older in the presidential election. For the midterm election, the turnout is about 38 points lower.
“As far as students go, I think it’s very important that young people turn up to vote,” Pomante says. “Young people traditionally have the lowest voter turnout of all the age groups.”
Pomante says that this low voter turnout directly affects the policies that politicians take up. According to Pomante, politicians tend to address the problems of populations that turn up to vote.
“This is very important to young people because right now, we see a lot of young people rallying around gun control, safety for school, mass shootings, and things like that,” he says. “So if that’s an issue that’s important to young people, they need to turn out and vote with their beliefs and who they think will support their position on it so that it actually gets taken up.”
Perhaps this is the year young people will take the action necessary to make changes they want see. According to an analysis by TargetSmart, newly registered Florida voters between the ages of 18 and 29 increased eight percentage points in the two and a half months following the Parkland shooting.
Alyshia Hogan, who is serving her second term as the president of JU’s College Democrats, says that this election can have a significant impact on the youthful population.
“This election is a big deal, and thankfully the number of people, specifically young people, who are registering to vote is massive,” she says. “There’s a great chance that Democrats can flip the House and become the majority again, as well as the Senate.”
Hogan says the decisions made following this election could have substantial consequences for current college students.
“Most bills and regulations are felt the most about two years after they are put into effect,” she says. “This means that half of the students at JU will have graduated and become members of the working class, which is where a lot of bills affect the average person.”
Thomas Esposito, who serves as the North Region Director for the Florida Federation of College Republicans, recognizes the significance of the election.
“This midterm election, as we’ve heard throughout the political spectrum, is probably one of the most important, if not the most important, in modern times,” Esposito says. “We have a president in the White House who either, you love him or you hate him. We have a Congress right now that has a Republican majority in the House and the Senate. I think that if people want to make a difference, they should get out and vote.”
Esposito encourages students to get out and vote for the candidates who will align most with their beliefs and values.
“If they’re unhappy with the current Republican way of running things and the president, then they should take the majority away from the Republicans and give it to the Democrats,” Esposito says. “But the only way to do that is to vote. And I say that on the flip-side as well. If you do agree with the president and you do agree with the Republican Senate and House, you should get out and vote.”
Perhaps Esposito summed it up best.
“You should vote because it’s your voice, your vote,” he says. “Whatever you believe in is what you should vote for and things don’t happen without a vote.”