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Nov 07 2017
by Zehra Naqvi

5 Reasons Why College Students Should Vote In Special Elections

By Zehra Naqvi - Nov 07 2017
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In general, voting shapes what we want our country to reflect and represent. However, many people, especially college students, think of voting as only referring to casting their ballot for a presidential nominee on Election Day. The significance of voting for a state representative or even a local city mayor should not be underestimated though. In fact, if you've been discontent with the circumstances in the White House, you'll be happy to know you can make a difference right now by voting in special elections.

Because of the resigning, appointment, or death of representatives, there are vacancies in legislative positions that lead to a voting process outside the typical election calendar. These elections are called special elections. On November 7, state citizens of Utah, New Jersey, Virginia, New York, Maine, Ohio and Georgia have the opportunity to vote to fill open positions. Though advertised on a small scale, these elections can swing the balance of Democratic and Republican representation on Capital Hill. 

The New York Times emphasized that there will be seven special House and Senate elections, 5 to fill vacancies left by members of the Trump administration. Democrats will need to gain 24 seats to take control of the House in 2018. Therefore, the special elections can help to change one party's control to another, altering U.S. political conclusions. As a college student, we're busy with exams and trying to have some sort of a social life, and it is hard to take the time to get out to the polls and vote, but it's still essential to do so. Here are 5 reasons why you need to participate in special elections:

1. Lose or Gain Representation

The special election can actually switch seats in legislation. Democrats changed the House Seats for New Hampshire and Oklahoma this past month. Therefore, if you want your policies to be supported in the White House, you should vote. Ultimately, the laws passed will directly affect our generation and our kids. 

2. Change Current Controversial Policies


The representatives who fill up these legislative seats may alter national policies such as climate change, immigration, tax cuts and healthcare. These candidates invest a lot of resources into emphasizing their stance on policies, which helps to explain the most expensive House Race in history from Georgia's recent special election Democrat candidate Jon Ossof, who accumulated funds estimated at 23 million dollars. These financial resources are geared toward your area as the campaign teams only have to worry about your vote rather than those of the whole country, so it's easier to know which candidate supports which policy.

3. Greater Chance of Impact


Known as the Invisible or Unseen Election, special elections have lower voter turnout. While this may seem discouraging, in reality it means that your vote has more effect. If you want a change in the House, by showing up and voting there is a possibility it might happen. According to Flippable, "In 2010, a windfall midterm for Republicans, 68 of 468 seats in the House and Senate changed party control — a rate of 14.5%, as contrasted with the remarkable 24% flip rate during special elections since 1945."

4. Less Media Frenzy


Due to the small number of voters in addition to advertisement focusing solely on specific districts, the scale of national news around the candidate is not overwhelming. This means that you can find more accurate information about your candidate, making your decision more based on the policies rather than the propaganda surrounding their character.

5. Reform Specific To Your Community


Special elections focus on proposals for your district or state rather than a full country. Thus, many reforms can benefit your community specifically. If you vote for a certain politician, the chances of the proposal becoming considered is more likely because they would want to be re-elected when the next election comes around.

If you've been upset or unhappy with past political events as they will affect our future the most, you can make an immediate difference through voting in a special election. As college students, it is our civil duty to help shape the government we will grow up in.

Lead Image Credit: Pixabay

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Zehra Naqvi - University of California, Berkeley

UC Berkeley Student | Staff Writer

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