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Friday, September 21, 2018

Opinion

Staff Ed: Midterm elections matter more than you know


The Texas General Election has gained momentum in the media for the controversial race between Republican incumbent, Sen. Ted Cruz, and Democratic challenger, Rep. Beto O’Rourke. The outcome of this race has the potential to catalyze a significant political shift in Texas.

This midterm election, taking place Nov. 6, will not decide only the Texas Senate race, but also the outcome for 126 other positions in districts across the state. As an editorial board, we want to emphasize the importance of these smaller, yet influential positions as they relate to college students.

To a college student, political elections may seem as though they don’t have an impact on their day-to-day lives. Even local political decisions can appear like a concept far removed from their reality.

Elections, especially in local government, have a significant long-term impact on the lives of college students. From regulating the roads that students use to get to campus to allocating the funding that the University of Houston receives, many critical decisions are dependent on the results of each midterm election.

During this election, Harris County voters will be selecting judges for the county’s array of criminal and civil courts, in addition to making a decision for county judge — the person largely in charge of matters concerning flooding, county commissioners and district attorney.

The individuals voted into, or out of, office this fall will have the power to shape the issues that have the greatest potential to impact you: how the county prepares for severe weather, how we treat different types of criminal offenses, the future of the high school from which you may have just graduated.

Over the next two months, the Cougar will be researching and covering candidates for positions in Harris County and will be making endorsements on positions where the outcome has the power to impact the UH community.

Research such as this is vital to informed voting. Beginning research now will allow voters to make more informed decisions when they reach the polls.

We urge you to consider the causes you care about. Find candidates that share a common stance with you on these viewpoints. Look into what they want to do to bring positive change to these causes by visiting their websites, signing up for their mailing lists and going to their events. Gather as much relevant information as you can.

Then, consider the points of view you disagree with. Find the candidates who are hindering what you think is positive change. Write to them, petition them to change. If they refuse to, use your vote to aid in keeping them out.

The University of Houston has the potential to be one of the biggest influences in the upcoming election. If even a fraction of the 45,000 students decide that an issue matters to them, then every politician in a hundred-mile radius will pay attention.

Registering to vote is a guaranteed way to be a part of this influence. The University has a variety of resources for voter registration, both online and regularly at stations around campus. In getting registered and taking part, college students can make their voice be heard over the din in the political arena.

The last day to register to vote in Texas is Oct. 9. Until then, those wishing to register also have the option to do so at your county’s Voter Registrar’s office, many post offices and libraries and the Department of Public Safety. No matter how you obtain your application, make sure you leave enough time to mail it in.

There is just over a month to go until this critical election takes place. Get informed, get register to vote and get involved. Take advantage of the right to vote for who you think will have a positive change on the issues you care about.

This is not just a call to action to vote in the midterm election. This is a reminder that activists, politicians and marginalized people have fought for the better part of this nation’s history for the right of all people to be able to elect an individual to office. Join in making history by helping to shape the nation’s political sphere.

f there’s an issue of political race you feel is of particular importance to yourself or other UH students, please don’t hesitate in reaching out. We definitely will not be the only Houston media outlet covering the midterm election, but we hope to be the one most reflective of the needs and interests of our student body.

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