On Nov. 6, 2018 in Chatham, Illinois, cars pack into a small parking lot outside the Chatham Community Building, where citizens go to cast their votes in a high stakes U.S. midterm election. Inside, voting booths line the back wall. In front of those? More voting booths.
People inside the booths scribble ink into bubbles as children dance around while they learn about the voting process. The election judges are arranged around the perimeter of the booths to keep a watchful eye. Voters who have just entered approach the judges to receive their paper ballots.
A line of about five people, voting complete, stand in front of a machine to feed it their ballots. The machine swallows their paper, and tells them how many votes it has processed so far. Then, in what is often considered the highlight of the entire process, those who exit retrieve an “I voted” sticker.
Do any of the citizens exiting the community center expect they have participated in a record breaking midterm election?
All time high for midterm turnout locally and across the nation
According to CBS News, “An estimated 113 million people participated in the 2018 midterm elections, making this the first midterm in history to exceed over 100 million votes, with 49 percent of eligible voters participating in the election.”
While Fox Illinois reports “The Sangamon County Clerk is now saying a record number of voters turned out for this year’s midterm election.” Shocking numbers, especially considering the low turnout in the 2014 midterms and the tendency of certain demographics, such as young voters, to have a small turnout.
Millennials energize the vote
Why such a high turnout for Millennials? Some have attributed it to celebrity involvement encouraging young people to vote. Others, to the legalization of Marijuana. Still others think Millennials are motivated to put an end to gun violence. One Millennial voter said she thought it was important to balance out the “Trumpublicans” in the House and the Senate.
Either way, most agree that Millennials’ voices were crucial in this high stakes midterm election. And their votes might have been just enough to tip the balance.
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