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Photo of Georgia voting sticker by Emory Paul

What the Midterm Results Mean for Teens

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It would be an understatement to say the 2018 midterm elections were a success for both parties. Both parties are now more fully represented in Congress, which will hopefully (fingers crossed) result in more bipartisanship among members of Congress, leading to compromises over various bills and legislations. A higher level of diversity was achieved in Congress, including over 100 women elected to the House of Representatives, the first Muslim women elected to Congress, the first Native American woman elected to the House, and the first openly gay man elected governor. Most importantly, a record-high midterm voter turnout was achieved. This shows a greater interest in politics from all walks of life, which could create a better America in the sense that all voices will be heard in our government, no matter who you are or where you come from, and that a new flow of ideas and opinions can be presented and pursued.

There were also significant changes in Georgia. Many districts and counties that were previously red turned blue. For example, the 6th congressional district elected Democrat Lucy McBath instead of Republican Karen Handel. This came as a surprise to many people because, in 2017, Handel had been elected to the House in the 6th district in a special election, defeating Democrat Jon Ossoff. Also, the Georgia House became more diverse, which could bring new ideas to the state government and allow the state government to better serve and cater to the needs of our diverse population. Teens in Georgia showed a record-breaking voter turnout, which may lead to many positive things in our state and in the country. But there is still room for growth, with only 43.5 percent of eligible 18- to 24-year-old voters coming out to the polls.

The youth vote is more important than ever. As elections become closer and closer, the youth vote could be the deciding factor between two candidates and have impact on the fate of the nation and each election. As we saw in the very close Georgia gubernatorial race, only 54,723 votes separated Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams. That’s 54,723 teens who could have changed who the governor of Georgia was, and that could have drastically impacted Georgia.

You may ask, what do these results mean for the teens and youth in Georgia? Well first, Brian Kemp, the governor-elect, has made significant promises regarding schools. He promised to implement a teacher pay raise package that includes each teacher receiving a $5,000 annual pay raise, so your teachers can now give you treats every so often. Also, he has promised to implement school safety measures across Georgia schools, which can greatly impact the daily life at school for teens and youth around Georgia. Also, with a new secretary of state, the many voting issues in Georgia that concerned many constituents will be addressed and will hopefully be restituted and fixed so each person can have a fair and equal chance for their voice to be heard.

If you are interested in voting in upcoming elections or have yet to turn 18, here is some important information:

To vote in Georgia, one must be a citizen of the United States and a legal resident of his or her county. The voter must be at least 17.5 years of age at the time of registration and 18 at the time of the election. Registration must be completed at least 28 days prior to the election. Registration can be completed online or by submitting a paper form. You can also register at your school, which is supposed to be offered around the time of big elections. In order to vote in Georgia you must have an ID, which can be obtained at a DMV. If you are looking for a place to vote, here is a website that can identify your nearest polling location: https://www.vote.org/state/georgia/ .

Never doubt the importance and the impact that your vote makes. It’s the youth of America who could make the change we so desperately need.

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