Student reactions to elections

The great seal of the North Carolina general assembly. Inscribed is the state’s motto “Esse quam videri,” latin for “to be, rather than to seem”.

Tuesday 3, November marked the voting day for the midterm elections. Polls closed late at night with a dead heat, and a slight lead held by incumbent senator Kay Hagan (Democrat). However, when dawn broke and all votes were tallied, Thom Tillis (Republican) was revealed to be the winner of the senate by a slim margin of only 1.68% (48,511 individual votes). Hagan has been in office as a US senator since 2009, and had served in the NC state senate for 10 years prior. Thom Tillis will assume her office as senator on January 3rd, 2015.

High schoolers find themselves on the brink of being tossed into the land of adulthood, and many are forming opinions and reactions to important elections, even if they don’t hold the right to vote.

“I personally feel bad for teachers and middle-class people because Thom Tillis was elected,” said Alec Ballard, a junior who was disappointed by the outcome of the close race.

Other high school students exhibit little to no interest in politics.

“I don’t really care about elections. I don’t follow them,” said Adrian Corkery, sophomore. He, like some students, think high-schoolers are not old enough to be worrying about such things.

In contrast, some that pay close attention to the political landscape in North Carolina wish they would be allowed to make an impact sooner. Freshman students turning 15 this year will not be able to vote until 2018–well past the next presidential election.

US Senator elections only affect nationwide lawmaking. Just as important if not more important to Leesville students are the state and local elections, generally divided by district, in which state senators are elected to pass laws for North Carolina on a more local level. The Senate, a branch of the General Assembly, is comprised of 50 senators who serve terms of two years. Additionally, a Lieutenant governor is elected to break any votes that end in a tie.

The North Carolina house of representatives, where Thom Tillis is currently speaker, consists of 120 members who have two-year terms. U.S. Senator-elect Thom Tillis will represent only one vote amongst 100 other senators that can only operate at a national level to make laws for the entire country.

For a high-school student, local elections might matter more because they set laws for things like drivers licenses and running schools. Do you know which candidates were on the ballot in your district?

In the November elections, Democrats only lost 1 seat to control 16 of the 50 state senate positions. In the State House, Republicans lost 3 seats to control 74 out of 120 offices. While NC gave control of Kay Hagans position in the senate to Thom Tillis, at the state level only a few seats changed hands, and the Republican party has a majority in the Senate, House, and Governorship (held by Republican Pat McCrory) to create a trifecta of total NC legislative control. Giving the republicans a majority in the House, to pass more laws favoring republican interests. Which, for Republican interests, is a big deal.

Whether or not you pay attention to this election, the day will come sooner rather than later, when today’s high school kids will be allowed to go forth unto the polling places and decide who will make laws for them. Those who choose to pay attention to the things that are going on in politics now might have an easier time deciding their stance on issues and who to elect when they finally can vote.


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