Naomi Lee, Reporter
Elisabeth Martin, Campus Carrier Features Editor
Jamison Guice, Campus Carrier Asst. Features Editor
Polls opened at 8 a.m. on Oct. 15 as record numbers of Georgians made their way to submit ballots.
According to state data, the early voter turnout for the midterm election increased by 213 percent compared to the last midterm election in 2014.
Two highly watched candidates for the Georgia midterm race for governor, Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp, may have helped contribute to the high registration numbers. Abrams, the Democratic candidate, would be the first African American woman elected governor in any U.S. state, making history in both Georgia and the country.
Additionally, National Voter Registration Day is held on the fourth Tuesday of each September in election years. Time Magazine reported that approximately 800,000 people across the United States registered to vote on Voter Registration Day in 2018— a new record which surpassed the stats taken from the presidential election in 2016.
Steve Miller, Chairman of the Floyd County Board of Elections and Registration, said increasing voter registration awareness should be done on a grassroots, or local level. Floyd County has implemented processes to encourage this increase in awareness.
“In Georgia we already allow voter registration through the Department of Drivers Services,” Miller said. “In Floyd County, we hold [voter registration] training classes for all high schools’ and colleges’ representatives and certify new registrars who are then able to register students during that month.”
The question remains: why is voter turnout still so low for young voters? State data also showed that while approximately 74 percent of early voters were 50 years old and above, only 6 percent
of young adults made it to the polls in the first week of early voting.
One factor in low turnout could be the lack of known differentiation between political parties, said Berry College’s Young Democrats Club President Matthew Blakely.
“I think many people see both sides as the same and this makes them less likely to vote,” Blakely said.
Blakely added that information is key to getting young voters to the polls.
“We need to better educate people on the issues and where different candidates stand,” Blakely said.
The lack of participation could also be due to young voters attending college in an area where they hadn’t previously registered to vote. Many political candidates in the U.S. encouraged students through social media to request an absentee ballot to mail back to their hometown.
Early voting runs Oct. 15 through Nov. 2 in Floyd County. Election day is on Nov 6.
The 2018 Georgia gubernatorial race has been a closely followed election during the midterm election season. The two leading candidates, Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp, represent two vastly different platforms. Each of their respective campaign websites provides information about issues that matter to them and can assist voters when casting their ballot on Election Day.
All information provided comes directly from the respective candidate’s website and does not reflect the views or interpretation of any staff member at The Campus Carrier.
Kemp’s website lists his goals for action in certain issue areas. Here are four of those areas and actions Kemp hopes to take on as governor:
– Increase economic growth to allow more job opportunities for Georgians
– Slash state regulations, taxes and mandates that negatively affect local businesses
– Increase jobs that will bring economic development projects to rural Georgia
– Increase small businesses in Georgia
– Dismantle gangs in order to decrease criminal activity
– Dismantle drug cartels located in Georgia to decrease criminal activity
– End sex trafficking and prosecute sexual predators
– Support early childhood education
– Increase pay for teachers
– Safeguard the HOPE Scholarship so it is available to all Georgians
– Reduce the workload that is mandated on teachers so students are the focus
– Implement a Georgia-focused health care plan that will lower costs on premiums and prescription drugs so Georgia families will have an increased access to medicine
– Fund mental health services
– Protect rural, or smaller, hospitals to protect them against bigger corporations
– Increase the doctor shortage with residency slots to better incentivize a long-term job position
Kemp has been endorsed by President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Senator Marco Rubio and Governor Nathan Deal among others.
Abrams’s website lists her goals for action in certain issue areas. Here are four of those areas and actions Abrams hopes to take on as governor:
– Create the State Housing Trust Fund that will work towards affordable housing solutions in an effort to support communities in need
– Strengthen housing opportunities for newly released incarcerated citizens
– End veteran homelessness
– Create support programs that increase upward mobility by fighting the current wage stagnation
– Invest in affordable education
– Protect public schools from privatization
– Encourage debt-free college through the expansion of HOPE, tuition-free technical college and need-based financial aid
– Fight for common-sense gun reforms which would include universal background checks and the repeal of campus carry
– Fight for extreme-risk protection order which would allow the suspension of a gun license if the person posed a risk to themselves or the community
– Support programs that target victims of domestic violence
– Invest in mental health services
– Expand Medicaid through the state in order to lower premiums for Georgia families
– Support women’s health and “a woman’s right to choose”
– Create support programs for the elderly and expand their healthcare services
Abrams has been endorsed by former President Barack Obama, former Vice President Joe Biden, former President Jimmy Carter, former Governor Roy Barnes and Congressman John Lewis among others.