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Library Research Notes #38
Voting matters, even, and especially, in the midterms
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Hello and welcome back. Thank you for your patience with the extra week between posts. You, as readers, still get 2 posts in July (thank you for 5 weekends in one month!) but I was able to take a break during my travel weekend. I had a chance to go to Western New York and see my parents, uncle, and a couple of friends who were COVID-free. Unfortunately, I also had some family members and friends afflicted with the latest strain of corona, which was both sad and scary. This virus is still NO JOKE and if you are able to stay safe, please do. Get vaccinated, wear a mask, stay away from big crowds, you know - all the things. Stay safe and enjoy the remainder of summer. Hopefully, the temps will level off and allow us some quality outdoor time where we don’t feel like we are melting.
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It’s your right as a citizen of the United States to vote. To me, it feels more like a requirement of my citizenship, but I know that everyone doesn’t agree with that. Honestly, though, after the last few decades in this country and the realization that old struggles for groups of people other than white, rich, able-bodied, cishet, dudes, continue to be new, year after year after year, should be enough for each and every one of us to visit the voting booths. We will only see change when we get our numbers up.
According to census.gov, in the 2018 midterm election, we saw a turnout of 53.4% of those eligible to vote showing up to the polls. This was up from 41.9% in 2014, but not as high as we see for general elections. In 2020, we saw the best turnout for the 21st century at 66.8%., which proves the power of angst and how it can move people to action. 2020 helped us hold on to our system of government for now, but if we don’t turn out in numbers higher than 2018, those gains may have been for naught.
Sadly, we have never had a 100% turnout and the highest ever turnout happened back in 1876. In that year, 82.6% of eligible voters turned out for the race between Rutherford B. Hayes (winner) and Samuel Tilden (newsweek.com), which also ended up being disputed since neither candidate won a majority and the House had to set up a committee to appoint the winner. This was also the first election that Black men were able to vote, so that could have had something to do with the higher turnout, even though voter suppression was certainly a factor as well. Without suppression, the percentage probably would have exceeded 90%.
If we look back on the highest turnout elections, we can see an obvious pattern of strife and voting. When things are bad for large groups of people, more people vote and when things are generally okay, fewer people vote. Call it complacency, comfort, inertia, or what you will, but it is a definite pattern. This, in fact, does give me hope for 2022 because it is apparent that more and more folks in the United States are starting to realize that we are not in a good place as it pertains to our rights and freedoms. People are becoming more aware of the injustice and inequity that was baked into our system over time and if they parlay that rage, cynicism, anger, and grief into votes, we could see a big surge in voter turnout, leading to a better tomorrow.
Voting is just the start, but without it, fascism can and will take hold. And, as Joy Reid has stated, “the coming midterm elections could well determine whether we have free and fair elections again. The stakes are no less than that.” (msnbc.com) So my message this time, as always, is to PLEASE get out and vote. If you have a primary you can vote in, certainly do that, but especially come out on Tuesday, 8 November 2022 to cast your ballot in the general. If not for the country, perhaps as an early (12 November) birthday present to me? I would GREATLY appreciate it!!
In honour of the general election - 100 days from today - I would like to discuss a little about the candidates running in districts where I currently live, as well as a few other places I have resided. Along the way, I will provide some resources for you to do your own research on the candidates so you can make an informed decision on 8 November when you vote.
The main site (and my favourite) that I used for this research was ballotpedia.org - this site allows you to look up a sample ballot to become aware of who is running in your district and any ballot measures that you will want to read up on prior to visiting your polling location.
Clarksville, Montgomery County, Tennessee
In the 7th district of Tennessee, we have 2 major races for the general election. Democrat Odessa Kelly is running to unseat Republican Mark Green for the US House of Representatives and I am hopeful that we can get her elected. For Governor, we have 3 candidates running in the primary (4 August) on the Democratic side, looking to unseat the current Governor, Republican Bill Lee. The three candidates on the Dem side are, Carnita Atwater, a nurse from Mississippi who currently lives in Memphis and owns the Kukutana African-American History and Culture Museum; Jason Martin, a doctor living in Nashville who was propelled into the race due to Governor Lee’s mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis; and JB Smiley Jr. (my favourite - and here is my bias), who currently lives in Memphis and serves on the City Council, Super District 8, Position 1.
We also have a State Senator and State Representative who are both running unopposed and several Board of Education members who are incumbents (and democrats) being challenged for their seats by Republicans and/or Independents. Carol Berry from district 1, Herbert Nelson Jr. from District 3, and Jimmie Garland from District 5. Aron Maberry the Republican incumbent in District 7 is running unopposed. This seems like a run for Republican rule of the Clarksville-Montgomery Board of Education and I’m hopeful that the good people of my city will NOT STAND FOR IT. We already have the Governor trying to bring Christian-based learning into charter school settings, to siphon money from the public school system and funnel it to organizations that are tax-exempt and faith-based, and we don’t need that to be reinforced in the City of Clarksville or Montgomery County as a whole.
In the 8 November general election, Tennesseans will vote on 4 state-wide ballot measures. The most striking of them is the measure for Tennessee to Remove Slavery as Punishment for Crime from the State Constitution. Although the state constitution was adopted after the passage of the 13th amendment, the provision was written with prisoners in mind. Democrats want to change the wording to make it crystal clear that no form of slavery should ever be allowed in the State of Tennessee, while Republicans think that since the constitution was enacted after slavery was illegal nationwide, there is no need to amend the State constitution. State Senator Joey Hensley argued that the amendment “will only confuse Tennessee voters by leading them to believe slavery is allowed under the current constitution, which it is not.” (ballotpedia.org) If passed, the new wording will read: “Slavery and involuntary servitude are forever prohibited. Nothing in this section shall prohibit an inmate from working when the inmate has been duly convicted of a crime.” (ballotpedia.org)
Huntsville, Madison County, Alabama
When I lived in Huntsville, I was in District 5 for the U.S. House and, this general election, there are three individuals running for the seat; Democrat Kathy Warner-Stanton, a computer specialist from Decatur who holds a Bachelor’s in Computer Science from Alabama A&M University and a Masters in Management from Troy University; Republican Dale Strong, who won the runoff election in June 2022 for the seat that Mo Brooks formerly held; and Libertarian P. J. Greer, a former Marine and government contractor from Duluth, Georgia.
For U.S. Senate, also District 5, Republican Katie Britt won the runoff Republican primary, in June 2022, against Mo Brooks who had vacated his House seat to run for Senate. Other candidates running against Britt for this seat are Democrat Will Boyd, a pastor from Florence, South Carolina; Independent Richard Bowers; Independent Jarmal Jabbar Sanders; and Independent John Sophocleus.
The big race this year is for Governor and, of course, Kay Ivey is going to run again (retire already!) She is going up against three candidates; Democrat Yolanda Flowers; Independent Jared Budlong; and Libertarian James Blake.
Ballot measures for the State of Alabama are plentiful this year as well. Everything from incorporating voter-approved amendments into the State constitution to prohibiting changes to election conduct law within six months of a general election to infrastructure spending bills.
East Amherst and Buffalo, Erie County, New York
This year in New York, a second primary election is being held on 23 August, for the Congressional and State Senate races. In the 26th Congressional District of New York, Democrat and Working Families Party Incumbent Brian Higgins is running against Democrat Emin Eddie Egriu. Republican and Conservative Steven Sams is also running for the seat. For NY State Senate, in District 61, the Republican incumbent Edward Rath III is being challenged by Republican and Conservative Joel Giambra who unofficially withdrew but whose name will still appear on the ballot. On the Dem side, the Democrat and Working Families Party Incumbent Sean Ryan is being challenged by Democrat Benjamin Carlisle who ran in the heavily contested 2021 Buffalo Mayoral (India Walton should be the mayor - there’s that bias again) race as a write-in candidate.
For the 8 November general election, NY State has a lot of hot races - Senator Chuck Schumer, incumbent and majority leader, who has been in office since 1999 (term limits anyone?) is being challenged Republican Joe Pinion, five independents, one candidate with no party affiliation, and Veterans Party of America candidate. Senator Schumer definitely has his work cut out for him this season.
Democrat and Working Families Party Incumbent Governor Kathy Hochul, is being challenged by Republican Lee Zeldin, Libertarian Larry Sharpe, and Unite Party Candidate Alex Zapesochny. Incumbent Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado has three challengers while incumbent Attorney General Leticia James has two challengers. One of my favourite incumbents, Democrat Crystal Peoples-Stokes is being challenged for her NY State Assembly District 141 seat by Republican Mary Jo Carroll, in what I imagine will be a landslide for Peoples-Stokes.
The only ballot measure this time has to do with money for Environment and climate change initiatives which I hope will be approved.
Niagara Falls, Niagara County, New York
Niagara Falls shares the 26th Congressional District with Buffalo and Erie County and the Statewide races for Governor, US Senate, Attorney General, and such all hold true, as well as the ballot measure. The one difference on this ballot is the NY State Assembly District. Niagara Falls is in District 145 and here, the incumbent, Republican and Conservative Angelo J. Morinello is being challenged by Democrat Douglas Mooradian, whom I wish the best of luck even though the Democratic Party doesn’t look like they are doing much to boost his candidacy.
And now it is your turn!
Check out ballotpedia.org to do your research and get out and vote!!!
Good news from the stacks!
You made it to the end, again, and your reward is some good news…
Our Kids Read Partners with The New York Public Library to Donate 125,000 Books to NYC Youth (prnewswire.com)
Barack Obama Just Released His Summer Reading List (scarymommy.com)
Summer reading: the 50 hottest new books for a great escape (theguardian.com)
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