Surge in Millennial Voters Could Upend US Politics
Featured Story, The Latest News

Surge in Millennial Voters Could Upend US Politics

And a Record Number of Women Running for Congress

Millennial voters are on everyone’s radar thanks to the politically savvy Parkland, Fla., high school mass shooting survivors who have tied their messages and the March for Our Lives movement to electoral politics, marking a departure from other recent cultural movements.

Youth voters represent great untapped potential. Though voters between the age of 18 to 24 tend to vote in small numbers – the voter turnout in the 2014 elections was 15% – if millennials can keep their current momentum, and get out the vote, they could make a difference in the midterm elections. According to a recent poll by Pew Research Center, about 59% of millennials are Democrats or lean Democratic. That should be a wake-up call to Republicans. A surge of young voters would pose the most significant threat to Republicans in suburban swing districts, according to an article by The Los Angeles Times.

Though 18- to 24-year-olds represented roughly 12% of the voting population in 2014, according to the U.S. census, 4 million Americans turn 18 this year. And in 2019, millennials born between 1981 and 1996 are projected to outnumber baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964.

As The Los Angeles Times article said, if these young activists can drive fellow millennials to the polls, it could signal a significant shift in American politics.

Record Number of Women Running for Congress

Women, disgusted by Trump, his administration and the 115th Congress, are running for House seats in record numbers in the mid-term elections. As of April 5, 309 women had declared candidacies for U.S. House seats, a number that is expected to swell as the candidate-filing periods are still open in more than half of the states. The previous record was set in 2012 with 298 candidates.

There are 29 women on ballots for U.S. Senate races, a number expected to grow as more filing deadlines approach. The record for female Senate candidates is 40, set in 2016.

Women are still outnumbered by male candidates and face an uphill battle, but considering all of the open seats the current climate represents a great opportunity for women to make real gains in representation and a change in priorities, according to the article by The Associated Press.

Today’s full Congress, which includes the House of Representatives and the Senate, totals 535 members, of which 105 – or just 15% – are female.

Women are also getting in on gubernatorial races in November. So far, 40 women have announced candidacies in governor’s races, which surpasses the record from 1994 of 34 women.

No GOP Candidates for Many House Races

If you don’t believe there’s momentum behind the Democrats this year ahead of the mid-term elections, consider these numbers: To date, there are six U.S. House races with no Democratic candidates. That compares with 53 House races with no Republican candidates, according to data compiled by Ballotpedia.

The Congressional seats without Democratic candidates are in Georgia, Kansas, two districts in Louisiana, North Carolina and Wyoming. The seats with no Republican candidates run from Alabama to Wisconsin. Several states have more than one Congressional district without candidates. States with the most open seats include New York with 11, California with nine and Washington with six.

The numbers are expected to change as candidate-filing periods are still open in more than half the states.

 $380 Million to Safeguard Voting Systems

Congress set aside $380 million to safeguard the American voting and voter registration systems and now the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) is preparing to distribute the monies to the states to prevent future cyberattacks. To receive the funds, each state must submit a two- to three-page summary detailing how it would use the funds. In addition, states are expected to pony up $5 from their own budgets for each $100 given in federal assistance. And by December, states must furnish reports on how the money was spent.

The money will be distributed as part of a longstanding formula from the Help America Vote Act, which means that payment will be based on the amount of the voting age population per state, plus a described minimum payment amount. California and Texas stand to receive the most aid, followed by New York, Florida, Pennsylvania and Illinois.

Paperless voting systems are most vulnerable to attacks, according to election security experts, and are still in use in all or part of more than a dozen states. Congress wants the money spent on bolstering the security for at-risk computer systems, training election officials about cybersecurity, providing a paper record for every vote cast and providing for post-election audits.

Florida Judge Orders New Voting Restoration Process for Ex-Cons

A federal judge in Florida has ordered Gov. Rick Scott and his cabinet to overhaul the voting rights restoration process for prisoners who have completed their sentences.

Ex-offenders must wait a seven-year period after release from jail before they can apply for restoration of voting rights. Applications go to a board that includes the governor and his cabinet. The board, which only handles about 100 applications a year, currently has a backlog of about 10,000 applications. Florida, among the toughest states when it comes to restoring the voting rights of ex-convicts, has an estimated 1.5 million disenfranchised voters because of past felony convictions.

U.S. District Judge Mark E. Walker has given Gov. Scott until April 26 to come up with a better solution. Scott filed an appeal with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta.

April 9, 2018