Young voter turnout brought diversity, but there’s more reason to vote in future elections


Our polling places didn’t hand out “I voted” stickers on Tuesday, but our generation still made a difference. 

Thirty-one million more people voted in Tuesday’s midterm election than in 2014’s election, according to The New York Times. Projections from CBS News suggest new voters made up 17 percent of total vote, compared to 3 percent in the 2010 midterm election. And ABC News exit polls show that 18- to 29-year-old voters are projected to be 13 percent of the overall turnout this year, up from 11 percent in 2014.

This isn’t the insane young voter wave many anticipated.

 But it made a difference.

New Yorkers elected the youngest woman in history to Congress, 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. 

Sharice Davids, a former kickboxer and openly gay Native American woman, beat Kevin Yoder in Oklahoma City for a congressional seat. 

Michigan voted in Palestinian-American Rashida Tlaib and in Minnesota, Somali-American Ilhan Omar became the first refugee elected to Congress. 

They will be the first Muslim women to serve in Congress. Omar campaigned for universal healthcare and free college tuition. 

Maine and South Dakota voters elected their states’ first female governors, Janet Mills and Kristi Noem. Texas elected Veronica Escobar and Sylvia Garcia as the state’s first two Latina congresswomen. And in Florida, voters on both sides of the aisle chose to restore voting rights to formerly incarcerated individuals, a major victory for civil rights and criminal justice reform. This change allows another 1.5 million Floridians – 10 percent of the state’s adult population and 20 percent of the state’s African American adult population – to vote in upcoming elections. This can easily change Florida’s political future. 

These races are promising for young voters, and we are confident these new faces will bring new perspectives: America is more than just old white men. Finally we are beginning to see representatives who look like the people they serve.

The way to put these new faces in power is to consistently vote, not just in this midterm, but in every upcoming election.

Some of the news of the night left us feeling empowered and excited for our future.

And yet, along with the night’s historic victories, we were stunned by our fellow Buffalonians living in the 27th district. Although he has federal criminal charges of insider trading and lying to the FBI pending, Chris Collins still won re-election. We can’t believe it.

Will he really be able to govern with criminal charges hanging over him? His trial date is Feb. 3, 2020. How will this affect his work ethic?

He claims he can and has even promised not to miss a vote. But we are baffled that our community is so partisan that it would rather vote for someone facing indictment than choose a Democrat.

In all, the night carried mixed messages. 

Our generation didn’t turn out in masses, but we showed our potential. 

Diverse candidates didn’t win every election, but they snagged some meaningful victories. 

Change didn’t happen overnight. 

But we think it’s starting. 

The editorial board can be reached at opinion@ubspectrum.com