Why Students Should Pay Attention to the Midterm Elections

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Why Students Should Pay Attention to the Midterm Elections

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The midterm elections are just a few days away and the election seems to be bombarding your  TV screens and other sources of media. Still, for many students, they have not been paying any attention to the election. While most students at Dominion cannot vote yet, this election will still impact them in many ways.

Not paying attention is a very dangerous outlook, as the decisions made by the candidates after they are elected, will impact the majority of Dominion students as they travel through high school and college.

In Virginia, there are two races that will be voted on November 6th. First, the Senate race between incumbent Democrat Tim Kaine and the Republican nominee Corey Stewart with the winner serving the next 6 years. The more contested race for the 10th District seat in the House of Representatives is between the incumbent Republican Barbara Comstock and her opponent, Democrat Jennifer Wexton.  

Looking at the Senate race, the current freshman will be out of high school by the time the candidate elected this year can campaign for reelection. The current seniors and juniors will also be in college by the time that the Congressional Candidate, elected this year, has to run for reelection.

Basically, this election has a much bigger impact on students lives than one might think, the decisions and policies made by the elected official will follow students for the rest of their educational careers.

Nearly 200 Dominion students voted in a mock election, sponsored by the Youth Leadership Initiative. In the Dominion mock election, Jennifer Wexton beat out Barbara Comstock in the 10th Congressional Congress race, earning 56.33 percent of the votes. While Tim Kaine beat out Corey Stewart in the Senate race, earning 56 percent of the votes.

Dominion students voted for Jennifer Wexton to win the 10th Congressional Congress election and one of the 15 main issues she chose to tackle is education. Education is obviously a huge part of students lives as they have spent the majority of their lives in the school system. While she was in the State Senate, she proposed to, according to her website, “Eliminate unnecessary standardized tests… [and she] sponsored bills that would create a Student Loan Refinancing Program… [and] she will continue to fight against Betsy DeVos’ attempts to strip funding from public schools and hand it over to private schools.”

Another one of the fifteen main issues Wexton chose to tackle is gun violence protection. According to her website, she has said on this issue, “[I am] a strong advocate for gun violence prevention and has consistently fought for common sense legislation to keep our communities safe while also respecting the rights of responsible gun owners.” She also plans to support this change in Congress, “[I will] support legislation that expands mandatory background checks on gun purchases, closes loopholes that allow criminals to purchase firearms, [and] establish a ban on sales of military-style assault weapons and high-capacity magazines.” Her opponent, Barbara Comstock, did not address this issue on her website.

The Republican incumbent for the 10th Congressional Congress is Barbara Comstock, and one of her thirteen main issues is also education. She introduced the Student Loan Relief Act of 2017, and according to her campaign website, “If enacted, this bill will help students refinance their loans through the Department of Education and the private marketplace.” She also is working to give more local control to educators and help parents better finance for their child’s future college needs.

Another one of her thirteen main issues is inspiring the next generation of young women. Comstock has introduced the Next Space Pioneers, Innovators, Researchers, and Explorers Women Act as well as her Young Women Leadership Program, which a few Dominion students are apart of.

Democratic incumbent Tim Kaine, who was voted on by Dominion students to win the Senate election, has chosen strengthening public education, and higher education and job training as two of his twelve main issues. In terms of strengthening public schools, Kaine says, according to his website, “[he] believes in the power of career and technical education (CTE), [to help students have] successful lives after graduation, which is why he introduced legislation to help schools recruit and train high-quality CTE teachers.” He has also said he supports legislation to help students earn college credit in high school, thus decreasing the cost of college. This is already seen in some ways in the halls of Dominion, with dual-enrollment courses and APs.

In terms of higher education and job training, which has a huge effect on Dominion students and their future. Kaine has also co-sponsored the Fairness for Struggling Students Act, which would make it easier for students to get relief from their private loan debt through bankruptcy. According to his website, “He supports legislation to foster partnerships between community college and businesses to place more students in good jobs.”

Another one of the chosen twelve main issues is tackling gun violence, as mentioned earlier with fellow Democrat Jennifer Wexton, gun violence is a big area of concern for students after the multitude of school shootings throughout the country. According to his website, “He supports universal background checks, banning assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, and improving our mental health system.” Kaine wrote the Responsible Transfer of Firearms Act, which was written to hold people responsible for selling or giving firearms to someone who is not allowed to possess one by federal law.

The Republican candidate for Senate is Corey Stewart. According to his website be believes that “Parents need to be in charge of [the] education [of their child] and will work to give them as many choices as possible, including vouchers – that create competition that is good for all schools.”

Out of the thirteen of Stewart’s main issues, Stewart doesn’t mention other main issues that highly affect young people specifically. He does mention the second amendment and National Concealed Carry Reciprocity on his website, “[he] will defend Americans’ Second Amendment rights by fighting to remove any unconstitutional restrictions already in place and pro-actively ensuring this right is safely protected going forward… [and] the right to self-defense is God-given [and] Virginians should not have to ask permission to exercise that right.”

Students should take a look at these candidates to see which of the issues that affect youth are important to them, as see if their beliefs match up with any of the candidates’ beliefs. Whichever candidate wins for both election, it is very possible that some of these policies and ideas will come into fruition and will be heavily affecting Dominion students’ lives and their futures.

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