Midterms 2018: Davidson Votes

‘Cats to the polls: Severine Stier ‘19 engages with a poll volunteer prior to voting in the 2018 midterms at Davidson Town Hall on Election Day. Photo by Hannah Dugan ‘21

Drew Eastland ‘20

Staff writer

In North Carolina, the 2018 midterm elections will define the state legislative power in the coming years. In the current, sitting North Carolina General Assembly, the Republicans hold a super majority in both chambers: six seats in the Senate and four seats in the House. Democrats are confident they can break up at least one of the super majorities, if not both.

The key elections for Davidson students on Tuesday were State Senate: Natasha Marcus (D.) v. Jeff Tarte (R.); State House: Christy Clark (D.) v. John Bradford (R.); and the Judicial elections. There is an election for U.S. House between Alma Adams (D.) and Paul Wright (R.); however, Adams’s district includes the Charlotte area which is generally a safe district for Democrats.

Both Tarte and Bradford are incumbents in the Republican super majority, but their districts were redrawn after 2016, potentially opening the door for a challenger to steal their seat. Senate opponent Marcus likes her chances. “I focus very much on my race, but not the others,” Democratic State Senate candidate Natasha Marcus told The Davidsonian. “From [the reports I have heard], we are likely to break the GOP supermajority in the house.”

This election also featured North Carolina court nominees, but with a twist. For the first time, judicial candidates will be affiliated with parties. “The Supreme Court shouldn’t be partisan,” said Co-President of College Libertarians Elliot Polin ‘21. “The Supreme Court should be for the sake of justice, not for the sake of filling a party role.”

Some argue that including judicial party affiliations corrupts the integrity of the judicial system; however, having a party affiliation will lead to more interest in the races and will potentially increase the number of people voting for justices.

“I think I’d be more likely to vote for someone in the party that I was affiliated to” remarked Ben Heuser ‘21.

“If they weren’t endorsed by a party, I don’t know if I would have voted for them.”

Gerrymandering is another contentious issue that may be mitigated or exacerbated by the results of Tuesday’s election. In 2016, a court case stuck down some of the then current district lines gerrymandered in favor of Republicans. Problems with this issue extend beyond just Democrats; many college students have expressed issues with gerrymandering.

“I don’t think any of the partisan problems are going to be fixed until North Carolina does something about its gerrymandering,” said Co-President of College Libertarians Andy Hoyle ‘21.

Political signs lined Davidson Town Hall on Tuesday morning. Photo by Hannah Dugan ‘21

This election ballot also featured six amendments all of which have been pushed forward by a Republican legislature. Many of the amendments focus on transfering power from the executive to the legislative branch. This is likely because the current North Carolina governor is a Democrat. Democrats oppose all six amendments while Republicans favor all six.

Because this election does not feature a gubernatorial or U.S. Senate race, turn out could be low. However, some students expressed hope that in the wake of the 2016 election, the turnout may surpass expectations.

“I[t’s] 2018, there is always the Trump effect,” College Democrats President Kate Bock ‘19 said. “A lot of women in particular are voting Democrat…Hopefully more people will be galvanized to vote then have been in the past.”

In anticipation of the midterm election, the Center for Political Engagement hosted two events with Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Inc. Members from all political organizations across campus helped to run and sponsor the event.

“Just by having that event [students] will have a base level of information that [they] can then use to vote in an informed way,” said Chair of the Center for Political Engagement Matthew LeBar ‘19. “It’s important that we work to make those institutions better and more just and to hold accountable politicians who aren’t doing that.”

“These races…can be flipped by a matter of one hundred votes,” said Bock. “Your vote, no matter which party you affiliate with, is really impactful in this election, so all students should go vote.”

Outside the Davidson Town Hall, the polling district for the Davidson community, representatives from both the Democratic and Republican parties stood waiting to inform or persuade any uninformed voters. They also emphasized how only a few votes can make a huge difference.

Adams (D) won her race by a wide margin, retaining her seat in Congress for the 12th District. Marcus (D) triumphed over Tarte (R) to claim his state senatorial seat (41st District). Clark (D) similarly achieved victory, landing Bradford’s (R) State House seat  for the 98th District.

Of the amendments, expanding constitutional rights for crime victims, requiring voter IDs, capping income taxes, and establishing a constitutional right to hunt and fish were approved. The creation of judicial vacancy commission amendment and legislative appointments to elections board were halted by a majority of voters.

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