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Record Turnout Ushers New Wave of Representation in Politics

Photograph by Allyn Suzuki

Election results rolled in this past Tuesday night, revealing record-breaking voter turnout. Results also showed an increase in the Republican Senate majority and a Democratic gain of control in the House of Representatives. This change will affect the next few years dramatically, especially in terms of the Trump presidency.

An estimated 114 million Americans cast their votes this election, as opposed to the 83 million who voted in the 2014 Midterm Elections, according to The New York Times. First-time voters made up 17 percent of the vote, as reported by CBS News; among them, was Communications, Arts, and Sciences senior Sylvia Sawislak. “My experience voting for the first time was pretty smooth, but I think it’s really hard to understand some of the questions they’re asking you on the ballots,” she said. “They do a lot of deceiving of people on the ballots and in the ballot books that they’re giving you. So you have to be really careful.”

In general, young people tend to be less likely to participate in elections than older Americans, whether it be for lack of information or lack of interest. This year, however, showed historic levels of participation among young voters. “A lot of young people got out and voted because they saw people running who they felt represented them,” said Academic Choice senior Vanessa Rasmussen.

This election was also historical as of who was elected. Referred to by many as the “Year of the Woman,” 2018 marks the first time that over 100 women will serve in the House. This title is reminiscent of the original “Year of the Woman” in 1992, when six women held seats in the Senate for the first time, contrasting the 23 female Senators today. Of the women elected, Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib became the first Muslim congresswomen, Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland became the first Native American congresswomen, and both Arizona and Tennessee elected their first female Senators. “I guess it says that we’re evolving, growing in a type of way,” said Academy of Medicine and Public Service sophomore Ally Cazares. “Everyone is speaking up, everyone is trying to be involved.”

The winners of this election are undoubtedly reflections of the people who voted, a sign that the faces of American politics are changing. “The minority candidates and women who ran for office really inspire me, because as a woman of color who wants to go into politics, it makes me hopeful,” said Rasmussen.

Despite the unknowns that remain in the minds of Americans across the political spectrum, the midterms have shifted perspectives on  future elections. Sawislak said, “More and more young people are becoming aware of what’s happening, and once given the right to vote, I think a lot of young people will be more inclined to.”