Best/Worst moments of the 2018 Midterm Election
Best: Highest midterm turnout since 1914
With many issues that affect young voters such as college affordability, student debt, and the high cost of housing in major cities, this year’s record turnout, particularly among young Americans, might indicate meaningful legislative change is coming soon.
According to the United States Elections Project, 49.3 percent of eligible voters turned out to vote this November, the highest rate for a nonpresidential election since 1914.
Joe Szuszwalak, Communications Specialist for the Denver Division of Elections, reports that Denver voter turnout increased from 64.74 percent of active voters in 2014 to 74.50 percent in 2018.
Students on the Auraria campus likely noticed organizers and volunteers from New Era Colorado helping register voters and provide election information. With Colorado having a relatively large millennial population, focusing on young voter turnout was a priority for local activists.
The turnout among young voters has been an area of concern as, according to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, voter turnout in the last midterm elections in 2014 was less than 20 percent for 18- to 29-year-olds, a 40-year low.
However, there were some indicators that this election year would be different, with students from March for Our Lives engaging young voters and even millennial celebrities, such as Taylor Swift, encouraging their fans to vote. Swift’s Oct. 7 Instagram post caused a spike in voter registrations at vote.gov.
According to Szuszwalak, at the Tivoli Voter Center, there were 1,027 in-person votes cast and 2,876 mail ballots returned, an increase from 948 in-person votes cast and 1,749 mail ballots returned in 2014.
Morgan Royal, Senior Organizing Manager for New Era Colorado, said that turnout among 18- to 24-year-olds has doubled since 2010, adding, “To see such a strong performance from young voters this cycle is really exciting and encouraging for the future of young voter turnout in future years.”
Worst: Recount met with widespread suspicion
The state of Florida didn’t certify its election results this year until Nov. 20, two weeks after the 2018 election date. The uncertainty voters felt over this period was eerily reminiscent of the 2000 presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore that included a five-week Florida recount. This year’s Florida recount is the latest nail in the coffin for the growing lack of confidence in the US electoral system.
The election tallies for the gubernatorial race, between Democrat Andrew Gillum and Republican Ron DeSantis, and Senate race, between Democratic incumbent Bill Nelson and the former Republican Governor Rick Scott, were within incredibly slim margins of less than 0.5 percent, according to Politico. Both Republican candidates were eventually declared winners.
The nail-biting recount was likely already anxiety-inducing enough for state officials. Adding to tensions over the Florida elections, President Trump claimed on Twitter that “large numbers of new ballots showed up out of nowhere, and many ballots are missing or forged,” creating widespread suspicion of voter fraud.
Similarly, Scott expressed his disapproval of recounting votes in Broward County, stating, “I will not sit idly by while unethical liberals try to steal this election from the great people of Florida. Their goal is to keep mysteriously finding votes until the election turns out the way they want.”
Gillum responded to Scott by tweeting, “Mr. @FLGovScott — counting votes isn’t partisan — it’s democracy.”
While both Gillum and Senator Nelson have since conceded and offered congratulations to their Republican opponents, Floridians are still facing fallout from the November election. The Broward County Supervisor of Elections resigned after a series of issues in both 2016 and 2018, which constituted “violations of state law,” according to Vox.
The integrity of US elections has already been a contentious issue since 2016 after accusations of both Russian interference and Trump’s unproven assertion that he only lost the popular vote because of “serious voter fraud in Virginia, New Hampshire and California.” Unfortunately, with Florida being a key “swing state,” these issues will likely continue to be at the forefront of the 2020 election cycle and beyond.