This fall, many Springfield College students will have the opportunity to vote in an election of national importance. On Tuesday, Nov. 6 citizens will be voting in an election where all 435 members of the House of Representatives and one-third of the U.S. Senators will be determined.
In the 2016 presidential election 58 percent of eligible voters went to cast a ballot at the polls. This means only 138 million people went out to vote. Of those 58 percent of citizens that voted, only 39 percent of people ages 18-24 went out to vote, while only 51 percent of people in this age range are even registered. Springfield College Professor of Political Science Samuel Stoddard is trying to help change these statistics.
“It is really important to vote in general especially at this age. Voting is a habit, so it’s a habit we want to instill early,” Stoddard said. “Everything we know in political science shows us that people who start voting ages 18-24 are far more likely to be life-long voters, and people who don’t have that experience tend to develop the opposite habit.”
Politics on Campus
With this important election getting closer and closer Stoddard and his colleagues are starting a voter initiative movement on campus. They are hosting events for students to register to vote, either in Massachusetts or their home state if they choose.
“The best thing that students can do to make sure they can vote on Election Day is register here on campus. Your campus address, if you live in a dorm or if you live in the neighborhood is your legal address, even if you consider your more permanent address to be where your parents’ house is…everyone is eligible to vote here in Massachusetts. if you use this address,” Stoddard said.
In Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren and Charlie Baker are both running for reelection in the Senate and as the Governor respectively. Baker, who is a Republican, in a heavily Democratic state, is still heavily favored over Democratic nominee Jay Gonzalez. Warren on the other hand has a easier race against Republican nominee Geoff Diehl.
If students still want to register to vote in their home state or local election they can. Thirty-six states offer online registration including Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York and Rhode Island.
“If you are from another state that does not have online registration then you need to mail in a registration form which we have at the events have been at.”
In Massachusetts. citizens have up until Oct. 17 to register to vote, and Stoddard and his colleagues will be holding events up until the final days to register including one next Monday (See accompanying story.)
On the National Stage
Kanye West has been weighing in on his political views, whether he’s talking about his views backstage on Saturday Night Live or meeting with President Trump. He has never shied away which party he sides with.
Taylor Swift on the other hand just recently weighed in showing her support for the Democratic party in Tenn..
According to Vote.org “the site has seen more than 105,000 new registrations since Sunday evening, when Swift’s post went up and pointed to the site. For comparison, on average it has received about 1,000 new registrations a day in 2018.”
The upcoming election will decide who controls Congress. Right now, the Republicans not only control the presidency, but they also control both chambers of Congress. The GOP currently has 51 members representing them in the Senate. Every state across the country has two senators, so the Democrats currently have 49 members. The other part of Congress, the House of Representatives, has 237 Republicans. The House of Representatives, which is based on states population, only has 198 Democrats. Massachusetts, which has just over 6.8 million citizens has nine members in the House of Representatives. Bigger states, like California have 53 members.
If the blue party was able to take over one, or both chambers of Congress then they would be able to “check” on President Trump’s decisions.
“Our system of checks and balances in the government is designed for each branch of government to assert its own power and independence as much as possible, that was the Madisonian vision, that Congress would want to check the president because Congress would want to assert its own power in relationship to the executive branch,” Stoddard said.
Every branch of government has the ability to check on the other branches, that way no one branch has all the power. The President is allowed to veto a law passed by Congress, however with a two-thirds vote in both chambers Congress can override that veto. If Congress tries to pass a law, the Supreme Court can step in and declare that law “unconstitutional,” however Supreme Court Justices are nominated by the president, but the Senate confirms the Justices.
“Parties, especially when we have unified government with one party controlling have really sort of broken down that system. We are in a situation now where Congress has no interest in overseeing how the executive branch fulfills the laws and spends the money that Congress gives them,” Stoddard said.
Right now, since Republicans control both Congress and the presidency, it is hard for these “checks” to happen. When the government was created James Madison wanted each branch to assert their own power as much as possible, however with one party controlling both parts of government these checks don’t happen as much as the founding fathers thought they would.
If the Democrats take 50 seats in the Senate, and their votes end in a 50-50 tie with Republicans then the Vice President, Mike Pence who is very far right winged, gets to be the deciding vote.
If the Democrats are able to take control of the House in the upcoming election then they will be able to block the laws President Trump tries to pass, just like how the Republicans blocked President Obama’s Supreme Court nomination in 2016.
The election controls the next two years. Either Republicans will continue to control all aspects of the government, or the Democrats will be able to block President Trump’s laws, or even impeach him. For the President to be impeached the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Republicans right now, has to find the President guilty of “Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors.”
Election Day is held on the first Tuesday after the first Monday in Nov.. This year it will take place on Nov. 6 and Stoddard and his colleagues are influencing as many students to register and to vote.