By Emily Wiest

Elm Staff Writer

Registering to vote is bigger than just being one voice within the masses—it’s an exercise of your fundamental rights as a citizen of a democratic nation, and your chance to influence the government to better support your views.

Only 60 percent of eligible voters took part in the 2016 presidential election. Looking at data from recent years, that number drops to 40 percent for midterms. Dr. Katherine Maynard, a professor of French and a member of the local non-partisan group, Your Vote Your Voice, has been working to raise awareness about voter registration here on campus. With Your Vote Your Voice making registration easily accessible in Hodson, what excuse is there not to involve yourself in the midterms?

Midterm elections are coming up fast. Nov. 6 could very well shape the Trump presidency for the duration of the term. Control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate are both up in the air, with all 435 seats of the House and 35 of 100 seats in Senate up for re-election. Whichever party comes out on top will influence legislative agenda in Congress and have tremendous influence over the Republican party’s legislative abilities for the remainder of President Trump’s term in office.

If you’re not content with our current presidential administration, taking to the polls next month is your chance to make an impact on what the Republican Party as a whole can get done during this presidency.

If this election turns the House of Representatives or Senate in favor of the Democrats, Republicans could lose the ability to advance their bills to the office of the President without votes outside of their party. The Republicans currently hold 51 of 100 seats, and 26 of the 35 seats up for re-election are currently held by Democrats. Assuming their constituents continue to vote within the party, only two more seats are needed for Democrats to gain the majority. If the Senate flips, President Trump will have serious trouble trying to confirm nominees. Democrats will have the stopping power.

Many of us, however, might not have voted before. Some have only just reached eligibility. So what’s meant by “register to vote?” All states, except for North Dakota, require you to fill out a registration form before you vote in any election. This generally entails completing a form to provide identification information, like your address. In 37 states and the District of Columbia there’s even online registration, so the process is straightforward and fast. As long as you have registered once, and take part in at least one general election every four years, you don’t have to register again, ever. You only need to update your registration if there’s a major change, such as your address or name.

Being at college and out of your voting district doesn’t mean you can’t exercise your right to vote. Absentee ballots are available for those who cannot be in their district on election day. Generally, this means printing out a form and mailing it to a designated location. You can easily register for your absentee ballot by visiting www.vote.org and answering a few quick questions. The process takes less than three minutes and doesn’t require any information you don’t likely have off the top of your head.

Besides the high stakes in this election, the decision to vote comes down to our status as citizens and as Washington College students.

As Dr. Maynard reminds us, “one of the most important ways to lead as a citizen is to go to the polls and exercise your right to vote. It’s not just a right, but a responsibility.” Dr. Maynard calls WC students to remember our roles as leaders in our society. We live in a Republic—we can’t make the decisions ourselves, but we get to choose those who can. If you want to see a change in the decisions being made by our government, this is the time to act. Nov. 6 is your day to guide policy toward where you think it should go.

The Elm

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