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Historic and high-stakes election to be decided tomorrow

Historic+and+high-stakes+election+to+be+decided+tomorrow

Tomorrow, millions of Americans will head to their local polling site to cast a ballot for the candidates they want representing them in a multitude of different offices. 

The battle for the White House between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden is the race that the nation’s attention is predominantly focused on, as well as control of the United States Senate. Both parties have been echoing on the campaign trail that this election is the most important one in history, or at least in a very long time. Government teacher MaryJo Bauer said the agreement is a result of a perfect storm of political issues. 

“We have a giant calamity of major social, economic, and health issues striking us all at once,” Bauer said. “The pandemic has had a massive impact on humans, our economy as a result of restrictions and shutdowns that have destroyed people’s livelihoods, in addition to it becoming a time where socially and racially our community is more divided than ever.”

The stakes in this election have led some to speculate that there could be the highest voter turnout in history, but in order for that to happen, young voters (18-29) would have to vote in larger numbers than usual. They were the only age group in 2016 to have a turnout rate under 50 percent. Senior Jack Elliott, who turned 18 in late October, said it is important for young people to make their voices heard.

“I think it’s important for eligible high school voters to get registered and vote because then they will be more familiar with the system and how it goes and will then be more likely to do it in the future. Their voice is just as important as older people who are more likely to vote,” Elliott said. “As the youngest group of voters, high schoolers need to ensure a bright future for our country.”

Bauer said that taking part in the political process is important to being a good citizen.

“I always have been a large proponent in my class about teaching the process of how to insert ourselves and our beliefs into the political system,” Bauer said. “Whether they are partaking in the actual voting, putting out a yard sign, or attending a march, rally, or protest, I care that they know it is important to engage in politics in whatever way possible.”

Most votes in this election will have been cast before tomorrow, either by mail, or some other form of early voting, which is a stark contrast from previous elections. Elliott said he decided to vote absentee with his parents last week, rather than request a mail ballot or vote tomorrow.

“The line was about 45 minutes long with most people wearing masks and they had markers for social distancing. They asked for an ID and a reason why I was voting early,” Elliott said. “It was an extremely easy process.”

Although most voters’ attention is focused on federal races, there are also important local races. Missouri is one of several states to be holding an election for governor this year, as State Auditor Nicole Galloway, a Democrat, hopes to take down Governor Mike Parson, a Republican. Galloway said it is important for young people to understand the effect state policies have. 

“The decisions made close to home at the state level have a direct impact on people’s lives and futures, whether its investments in education, access to healthcare, good jobs to support yourselves and your family, those things come from the state and local levels,” Galloway said. “These decisions made at the state level will decide the funding for your local school district and the cost of your college education, so it really affects what your future is going to look like.”

Missouri currently has one of the worst infections rates of COVID-19 in the country, and case growth is extremely rapid. Galloway said that the state needs new leadership on the issue.

“This spring when the state shut down, people gave up so much, whether it be income, time at school, time with family, graduations and celebrations, and because Governor Parson has not listened to public health experts, including those at the White House, there is nothing to show for that,” Galloway said. “Our hospitalizations are up at a dangerous level, and thousands of Missourians have stopped searching for jobs.”

Like the health effects of COVID-19, the economic and social effects have also been a very big topic of discussion in Missouri politics. Andrew Koenig, a state senator representing a district that includes Fenton, is in a close battle for his seat with Democrat Deb Lavender, a state representative. Koenig said restrictions have gone too far. 

“We make risk choices every single day,” Koenig said. “For my job, I get on three roofs and I could easily fall off one of them and die, but I make that choice of doing that for my job. People should be able to make their own choices, and the government should not be able to control them.”

Due to the high volume of mail-in voting, there is not expected to be a winner projected on election night. President Trump has claimed without evidence that the mail-in ballots will be rigged against him, and he has refused to say whether or not he would concede, should he lose. Bauer said that regardless of who wins and how long it takes to count the votes, the loser should concede. 

“It is important for people to understand that the validity of our elections is based upon how free and fair they are,” Bauer said. “If there’s any doubt cast upon that, it causes the people who are elected to possibly lose legitimacy. I don’t want this election result to keep us in limbo and throw us into a legal battle that would last through the holidays. I hope that the loser according to the current result concedes, because the peaceful transfer of power is so important.” 

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Danny Murnin, Associate Editor

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