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What to Know as Midterm Elections Approach

Political signs in the grass, the names of the candidates unreadable
Photo by Sean McMenemy/Creative Commons

North Carolina will hold primary elections on May 17. The voter turnout rate for college students increased in 2020 compared to 2016, but was only 40% during the 2018 midterms. To prepare Meredith College students for the upcoming election and how it impacts them, The Herald reached out to Dr. David McLennan, Professor of Political Science and Director of the Meredith Poll.

Dr. McLennan explained that North Carolina has a “semi-open primary election.” Voters registered with a political party or unaffiliated voters can vote in one of the two major primaries.

This means that if a student is unaffiliated, they can vote either in the Democratic or Republican primary, but not both. If a student is already registered as a Republican or Democrat, they must vote in their respective parties.

“The purpose of the midterm elections is to select the general election candidates that will face off in November,” Dr. McLennan said. “The 2022 elections will be held for federal offices—one U.S. Senate seat will be contested in North Carolina and all 14 House of Representative seats—along with state legislative seats, judicial seats and many local offices.

Dr. McLennan advised students to vote early if they can, “approximately two weeks prior to May 17.” He shared that students can request “an absentee ballot up until one week before election day,” and that they do not need an excuse to request one.

“The midterm elections are as important as those conducted during presidential election years,” Dr. McLennan said. “Not only will all 435 members of the House of Representatives be determined this year, but one-third of the seats in the U.S. Senate are up for election this year. Congress plays a major role in determining laws that affect all Americans, including students. The two major parties have major differences on the policies that students care about, from the economy to the environment to racial justice. If students want to shape federal policy on these and other issues, they should vote.”

Dr. Mc Lennan also shared that “students’ day-to-day lives are more affected by what happens in state legislatures or on city councils than what Congress or the president do.”

“Here locally, the election of city councilors, school board members or judges have [a] tremendous impact on all North Carolinians,” he explained. “Students concerned with public safety in Raleigh need to vote. Students worried about affordable housing should vote. Almost anything that impacts a students’ quality of life is impacted by the 2022 elections.”

By Hannah Taib, Staff Writer


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