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OPINION: A big election is coming. What to do if you can (or can't!) vote


ICYMI, there's a monumental election coming up: The 2018 midterm elections will be taking place in most areas on November 6, which means you have approximately 31 days to get registered and make a date at the ballot box. Or, if you're too young to vote, you've got approximately 31 days to use your voice to influence those who can vote.

What's at stake? 435 U.S. House seats and  33 U.S. Senate seats are up for grabs — meaning that depending on whether Democrats or Republican canidates take the majority number of seats, Congress will either lean red or blue. (ICYMI, the Congress is responsible for overseeing pretty much everything that President Trump does; so whether you've been protesting his policies or proudly wearing your MAGA hat for the past two years, your vote could have a pretty big influence on our current president.)

But here's the thing: According to a recent Gallup poll, only 26 percent of people aged 18-29 say they're "certain to vote." (To put that in perspective, 82 percent of people over age 65 will definitely be filling out a ballot.)

I, personally, am extremely unhappy about the way our country is currently being run. I'm tired of feeling unsafe at my school. I'm tired of watching America put gun violence to the side. I'm tired of womens' rights being trampled and our voices being muffled.

And if you, too, are frustrated, one of the most powerful things you can do is vote. I will be voting blue. And it's important to note that a lack of voting participation from people who feel like I do is one of the reasons we're even in this trumped-up disaster in the first place. If the Democrats take the house, this means that we're most likely going to be seeing a lot of investigations into everything that's gone on this year (Russia, Kavanaugh, etc.) and even possible impeachment hearings. And if Republicans take the house? Well, we'll probably see a very happy president. I highly recommend checking out this very handy (and interactive) guide to the midterm elections created by the New York Times, which breaks down what could happen and what it could mean.

But whatever your political and moral beliefs — and whether you agree with me or not! — I urge every 18-year-old (and up) to go out and vote on November 6. Round up your friends. Bring some games to play in line. Make a date to grab froyo after. Invite everyone. Make it a thing.

And if you're too young to vote? Don't worry — there are still plenty of ways to make a difference and influence the outcome of this election. Try these 5 tactics...

1. Participate in #WalkOutToVote
On November 6 (midterm voting day), various organizations run by young people (including those behind March for Our Lives) are planning #WalkOutToVote, an initative to get Generation Z to the polls. “It really makes sure that we send this message to politicians and to the country that we are a unified front as young people," said 18-year-old activist Katie Elder.

2. Do your research
What is it that you value? What are you concerned about? How do you feel about gun control? Reproductive rights for women? Look for canidates who represent your values and share similar concerns. Midterm engagement is statiscally lower than primaries, so your efforts to understand the issues others will be voting on can make a larger impact.

3. Talk to the 18-and-up people in your circle
Neighbors, babysitters, family friends, your parents, your grandparents, your bestie's parents: Who are they voting for? Are they voting at all? Have they registered? Ask about their positions and values. If you disagree, explain what's important to you (and why). You might just change their minds. And if they're not politically active at all, you can encourage them to register.

4. Volunteer at campaign events
The Get Out and Vote Initative always needs supporters, whether it be hosting a voter registration drive at your school or phone banking. Any contribution helps when it comes to being the change you want to see in the world.

5. Ask your teachers to discuss elections in class
Having politcal discussions in school can be super helpful in understanding the views of other people—and the classroom is a great place for students to learn how to have open, respectful discussions about differing beliefs.

So get out there. Your vote—and your voice—is powerful. Use it!

by Audrey Bartholomew | 10/6/2018
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