Turnout in midterm election was high, but many students stayed home

While the turnout Nov. 6 was high overall, many MCCC students said they didn't vote.

The Midterm Elections have come and gone, and the results of it will be felt by people across the state.

The voter turnout for this election was high in comparison to other midterm elections. Statewide turnout among registered voters was 57.5 percent, up from 2014’s 42.8 percent, according to the Detroit Free Press.

In Monroe County, the turnout was 56.1 percent.

Julius Kruse, an MCCC student, believes this higher voter turnout was great for the election.

“I believe voting is very important and it is good that we had such a high turnout,” he said.

Kruse said the election grabbed his interest in ways that other elections had not.

“I usually try not to think too much about politics, but this year has really got me interested,” he said.  “I think it is terrible that more people aren’t voting. The turnout was great, but there is always room for improvement.”

Many other students, however, did not share the same enthusiasm. MCCC student Noah Black is one of them.

“It is not that I don’t care, I just can’t be bothered to keep up,” Black said.

Many students found it was difficult to follow politics, especially when the topics did not seem to directly apply to their lives.

MCCC history professor Edmund La Clair emphasized the importance of staying informed during the election process.

“I think it’s important to stay educated on politics as much as to be engaged,” La Clair said.

He went on to push the need for voters to not simply vote according to party lines.

“I’m always shocked at the studies that demonstrate voters supporting political parties or the policy positions of those parties that are diametrically opposed to their own interests and values,” he said.  

“We’ve become tribal in our partisan loyalties; this is not healthy, but it’s also what is keeping people engaged.”

While many students were not entirely informed about all measures on the ballot, most were at least familiar with Proposal 1.

Proposal 1 is the legalization of recreational use of marijuana for people over the age of 21, with a tax imposed on the sale of marijuana.

Proposal One was approved with 55.9 percent of the vote, with over two million votes in favor of the proposal.

This did not come as a surprise to fifth-year Monroe County Middle College Student Anya Smith.

“I expected weed to be legalized because everyone smokes weed now,” she said.

Jacob Assell, a former MCCC student, said he believes the legalization of marijuana is a pertinent issue to the state.

“It is important that we stop sending people to jail for doing harm to their own bodies,” he said.

It’s the individual’s choice and it’s not that dangerous, so it’s unnecessary to continue to incarcerate individuals on such offenses, he said.

MCCC political science professor Michael Snyder is less excited about the proposal.

“I have seen marijuana have negative impacts on friends of mine. It’s not a harmless drug,” he said.

Snyder does not dismiss the upsides to legalization, however.

“The upshot could be that the usage stays the same, and it could reduce the criminal process around it,” Snyder said.  “I can see the upsides, but I certainly would not recommend that anyone use this drug recreationally.”

Snyder also made note of how many of the questions like this are addressed in his POLSC 157 class, which will be offered in the winter semester.

With changes of party control at both state and federal levels, Democrats and Republicans may have to begin compromising.

In relation to the state government and Gretchen Whitmer’s promises to work with the Republican-run legislature, La Clair is not confident in either side working with the other.

“There is no reason for Republicans to cooperate with Democrats or vice-versa. Doing so gets you labeled a RINO or DINO, and then you lose in the highly fringe-motivated partisan primaries we implemented a century ago,” La Clair said.

Snyder, on the other hand, is more optimistic, especially on the federal level.

“Democrats are reaching out and trying to get things passed, and Trump has branded himself as a negotiator, so it will be interesting to see if they work together,” he said.  

“It’ll be interesting if it falls into deadlock and they can’t get anywhere. People will say he can negotiate better with North Korea than the House of Representatives.”