The Bigger Picture


Election Day 2018: What’s different about this election?

Maddie Capron / Managing Editor

If you ask someone in politics, they’ll probably say all elections matter. But for some, the 2018 midterm elections just feel different.

Nationally, the elections will decide which political party is in control of Congress. On a state level, Ohioans will see a new governor and fresh faces in the Statehouse and in other areas of state politics. In Athens, voters have the power to decide the fate of schools in their district and who becomes a county commissioner. Few, if any, people in politics would say those things are anything but irrelevant, however there’s still something distinct about this election.

Over the past few years, politics have become more polarized and more personal. The rise of movements like “March for Our Lives” and “#MeToo” have put social issues to the forefront of the political discussion. While some voters are concerned about the state of the economy, health care policies and immigration. To some, however, this election is about deciding the future of the country, what it values and where it will go.

An opportunity to be seen and heard

Washington, D.C., is about 350 miles from Athens, and while some may think what happens in Washington doesn’t have too big of an impact on their own lives, this year’s election could have a tremendous one.

USA Today reported that this year’s election “won't just decide who takes control of the House or Senate. The midterms are seen in large part as a referendum of President Donald Trump, whose two years as president have been tainted with controversy and scandal.” Meanwhile, the Washington Post reports that this election is unlike any other in recent history.

For Ohio University Student Senate President Maddie Sloat, this election is an opportunity to halt what she sees as an unraveling of progress in the areas of civil rights and women’s issues. Sloat said her opinions as a politically involved person are separate from her work in Student Senate.

“This is a reflection of the current turmoil in our society due to social and political issues and the organizations and the internet that continue to inflame people and their attitudes.”Pete Couladis

“As a young woman who’s worked to promote civil rights and women’s issues for years now, feeling like so much of the work that our country has done to make progress in these areas has been undone in such a short time is a difficult pill to swallow,” she said. “So for me, this election is an opportunity to halt that as soon as possible, and start making change in the right direction again.”

Sloat isn’t alone in that realm of thinking. Activists on both sides of the political spectrum have poured countless hours, days, weeks and months into advocating for their beliefs. In 2016, for example, The Post reported that many students had put campaigning ahead of classes and other duties, making it their number one priority. Students now want to see the change they had anticipated come to fruition.

“While I believe that every single election matters and that every citizen should exercise their civic duty of voting every election cycle, given the current climate of our nation and the important issues at stake, this election is an incredibly important one,” Sloat, who votes in her hometown of Pittsburgh, said. “Our representatives will decide on issues that have direct consequences on the wellbeing and experiences of women, citizens of color, immigrants, people in poverty, LGBT folks and so many more in the United States, and voting this election cycle shows that we care about what happens in our own country.”

Athens County Republican Party Chair Pete Couladis feels similarly to Sloat, saying there seems to be much more at stake nationally since this election will decide which political party has control in Washington.

“This election seems to have more negative and nasty campaign ads particularly from the Congressional candidates,” Couladis said in an email. “This is a reflection of the current turmoil in our society due to social and political issues and the organizations and the internet that continue to inflame people and their attitudes.”

Making it personal

For some, this election goes far beyond politics and political jargon, and it could have an impact on their everyday lives.

Robin Kelby, a first-year master's student studying computer science who uses they/them pronouns, said that although they don’t have a personal story as to why the elections matters to them, many other people in their life have seen politics become personal. When their parents divorced, they said the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allowed their mother to receive insurance through her employer. Additionally, the act helped their partner’s mother through cancer, they said.

“Other friends must carefully follow health care laws and regulations, because changes in those laws and regulations can be the difference between getting the medication they need and the consequences of going without,” Kelby said in an email. “You may not be affected by a law now, but you or someone you care about may be affected in the future, and you should vote as if you yourself would be affected.”


Marcus Pavilonis | ILLUSTRATION

Health care is just one of the many issues at the forefront of the elections. Over the past years, Democrats and Republicans have latched onto certain issues they believe strongly in. From gun rights, immigration reform, abortion and women’s rights, and countless other issues, some say Americans are living in a time of political revolution. And that revolution has made waves in Athens, hitting even closer to home.

For example, there have been nearly 300 mass shootings in 2018, according to ABC, leading to movements like “March for Our Lives.” In March, hundreds gathered in Athens to support increased gun legislation as part of more than 800 rallies taking place.

OU College Democrats President Bailey Williams, who was a main organizer of the march in Athens, said he had organized the march because “no one is spared” from gun violence.

“You don’t have to be in D.C. to advocate for gun control,” Williams said. “Satellite protests and marches are just as important as the ones in D.C. to show how widespread the support for this movement is.”

Starting in 2017, a wave of sexual assault allegations trickled throughout the country, and this semester, that empowerment to report has been seen on campus. As of Oct. 23, there have been 21 total reports of sexual assault to the Ohio University Police Department and the Athens Police Department since Fall Semester began.

About 500 students gathered on College Green at the end of September for the “It’s on Us, Bobcats” march and rally to call for an end to sexual assault on campus and express their support for sexual assault survivors.

Regardless of the issue at hand, Athens City Council President Chris Knisely said politics affect residents’ everyday lives.

“This election and every election matters to people who live in Athens, because the candidates who are elected establish policy, and the ballot issues that may be approved affect our everyday life,” she said in an email.

What comes next?

With reports of everything from a blue, youth, pink, rainbow and so on wave, people are unsure about what comes next from the elections.

There appears to be a spike in early voting and turnout. In 25 states, there have been more “advance vote counts” than there were in the last midterm elections in 2014, according to the New York Times, and more than 36 million ballots were already cast as of Monday. While Ohio was not one of those states, the number of early voters in the state is catching up to 2014.

“Midterm elections are an opportunity for citizens to check the actions of the current administration. I think this election is an opportunity to remind Washington of our priorities as citizens of this country.”Maddie Sloat

Debbie Quivey, Athens County Board of Elections director, said Oct. 19 that she had not seen a spike in early voting at that time, but voting had been steady. The Athens County Board of Elections also had 45,316 people registered to vote, which was more than it saw in 2014.

On Election Day, people will file into voting booths to cast a ballot for the candidates they feel share their beliefs and interests.

“Midterm elections are an opportunity for citizens to check the actions of the current administration,” Sloat said. “I think this election is an opportunity to remind Washington of our priorities as citizens of this country.”

Development by: Megan Knapp / Digital Production Editor

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