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The midterm election: Voters turn against extremism 

The midterm election occurred on November 8, 2022 with surprising outcomes. A midterm is supposed to be the time that the opposing party can make up ground for the next Presidential election, in this case a “Red Wave”, but that is not what happened. 

Voters rejected antidemocratic and autocratic candidates this election by denouncing many of the candidates that Donald Trump backed, including all of Trump’s secretary of state candidates who ran on the lie that the 2020 election was rigged.

Voters also chose progress instead of regression. The US broke its record for the most female governors elected at once with nine female governors. Wes Moore was elected as the first Black governor in Maryland and he is only the third in US history, Maura Healey is the first out lesbian governor in US history and the first female governor in Massachusetts, James Roesener is the first out transgender man to become a state lawmaker and Alex Padilla is the first Latino senator in California. Voters pushed for historic firsts and pushed back against oppressive, hateful candidates in many places. 

There was no red wave because many people are tired of Trumpism. People are tired of election denial and when candidates refuse to accept the results of a legitimate election, that is a step too far for many moderate voters. The key independent and moderate voters that Republicans needed to win back from Biden in 2020 did not go back. Even with Trump’s campaign announcement on Tuesday, he is not in as strong of a position in the run for the presidency as he was in 2016.

As well, the Supreme Court’s decision, reversing Roe v. Wade through the Dobbs decision was a large push to prevent a red wave. Abortion was on the ballot in five states: California, Kentucky, Michigan, Montana and Vermont.

California voted to add a provision to their constitution which prevents the state from interfering with or denying an individual’s reproductive freedom. Kentucky voted against adding a provision to their constitution that would remove any protection for abortion. Michigan voted to add a state constitutional right to reproductive freedom. Montana voted to not add the possibility of criminal charges for healthcare providers unless they take “all medically appropriate and reasonable actions to preserve the life” of a fetus born alive. Lastly, Vermont added the right to personal reproductive autonomy to their constitution. All five states voted to limit the state’s reach in reproductive rights issues. 

Republicans still won the House, but by a lower margin than previously predicted and Democrats kept the Senate. It seems that voters are tired of extremism in many ways and the question remains as to what the Republican party will do now as Trump prepares to run again for the presidency. Voters are searching for alternatives to what they have been given in the past. Many high profile Republican politicians even say it is time to move away from Trump and not have the Republican party as the “party of Trump”. Still, the question remains: in the future will the party choose extremism again? Or will they risk standing behind someone else? 

Rachel Hartmann (’24) is majoring in Political Science and is minoring in the Hesburgh Program in Public Service and Civil and Human Rights. She is a member of ND’s Write to Vote chapter. 
W2V is the Notre Dame chapter of the national Write to Vote Project, a non-partisan, pro-democracy initiative. Its goal is to support democracy, encourage civic engagement and advance voting rights in the U.S. and around the world. You can contact NDW2V at ndw2v@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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College Republicans’ response to the College Democrats’ Letter to the Editor

This week, the College Democrats published a Letter to the Editor accusing our club of promoting “racist, transphobic, and antisemitic rhetoric” in the 2022 midterm debate that took place on Wednesday, Nov. 2. They call for our debater’s remarks to be formally condemned by the University administration and to require our officer corps to face “comprehensive anti-bias training.” The allegations made by the authors of the letter are categorically false and defamatory. We call on the College Democrats to retract them and issue a formal apology immediately.

The College Democrats fail to provide any evidence for their charge of racism, while any rational person can judge for themselves the intellectual seriousness of the allegation that opposing the genital mutilation of children constitutes “hate speech.” And although the Democratic letter claims that our representative made antisemitic comments during the abortion segment of the debate, their accusations contradict the plain meaning of what was said that night. Their deliberate misinformation campaign is reprehensible, and we encourage anyone who wishes to hear the full debate to watch it on YouTube. At the thirty-eight minute mark, the Democratic representative, makes the following charge.

“[The Republicans are] trying to impose their own worldviews. The science is not clear on when life begins.”

Ultimately, what lies at the heart of the College Democrats’ argument is their defense of the indefensible: the grave evil of abortion. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches that “since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion … Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law” (no. 2271). It further states that “the inalienable right to life of every innocent human individual is a constitutive element of a civil society and its legislation” (no. 2273). Despite the Democratic representative’s claim to the contrary, we know — through both science and the exercise of reason — that life does begin at conception. The sanctity of unborn life cannot be left up to pluralistic interpretation.

Our representative made no claims about Judaism, even taking care to point out that he could not speak for the Jewish faith on the matter of abortion when he said, “I’m not making any kind of claim about Judaism.” Therefore, the College Democrats must promptly withdraw their libelous claim of antisemitism. Additionally, we ask that their officers receive adequate pastoral care to inform them of the Church’s teaching on the evil of abortion in light of their spiritually perilous position. Using the platform of Our Lady’s University to promote an industry which has claimed the lives of more than 63 million American children since Roe v. Wade is unacceptable and represents an attack on all pro-life students on this campus who are committed to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

We condemn moral relativism. We condemn the barbarism and depravity of the Culture of Death, which is predicated on the false notion that abortion is a necessary means to the attainment of human flourishing. We affirm the intrinsic value of every human life. Putting an end to abortion is, without question, bigger than politics. However, as partisan legislative attitudes with regard to abortion move increasingly further apart, we believe that our club and our party have no choice but to take a stand.

We, the Notre Dame College Republicans, will not be intimidated or harassed for holding true to orthodox Catholic doctrine. Our members — and the millions of Republican voters across the country — care deeply about safeguarding the sanctity of life in the face of direct attacks on the unborn by the Democratic Party. As the country’s leading Catholic university, Notre Dame has a duty to boldly witness to life. The administration can succumb to intimidation, or it can defend the truth.

In his encyclical Caritas in Veritate, Pope Benedict XVI writes, “In Christ, charity in truth becomes the Face of his Person, a vocation for us to love our brothers and sisters in the truth of his plan. Indeed, he himself is the Truth.” The Catholic character of Notre Dame still matters. We take seriously the work of proclaiming the truth, even when our peers deny it. As the words of the First Epistle of Saint John the Apostle remind us, to love our neighbor genuinely requires us to share in the charity of God’s very nature:

“And we have known, and have believed the charity, which God hath to us. God is charity” (1 John 4:16).

PJ Butler
President of Notre Dame College Republicans
Mark Ballesteros

Vice President of Notre Dame College Republicans
Jose Rodriguez
Secretary of Notre Dame College Republicans
Merlot Fogarty
President of Notre Dame Right to Life
Nov. 16

The views expressed in this Letter to the Editor are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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Panelists discuss outcomes of 2022 midterm elections

On Wednesday evening, the Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study hosted a panel discussing the implications of the 2022 midterm elections results on democracy, abortion and the 2024 presidential election.

The panel was moderated by political science professor David Campbell and included Notre Dame alum and New York Times opinion columnist Carlos Lozada, Notre Dame political science professor Christina Wolbrecht and associate Notre Dame political science professor Ricardo Ramirez.

While the results of Tuesday’s elections are still being determined and control of the House and Senate has not yet been decided, the general consensus of the panelists was that Republicans had underperformed in a year that was supposed to bring about a “red wave” of Republican victories. 

“Going into this election, inflation is high, the President’s approval rating was low, [there were] lots of reasons to think that this was going to be just a major win for Republicans,” Campbell said. “While we’re waiting for the final results […] this was no red wave, Democrats held out in many parts of the country.”

The panelists floated a number of theories as to the possible reason for this somewhat surprising outcome.

“If the Republicans hadn’t put up such unorthodox, unappetizing candidates, in contested elections, perhaps you’d be seeing an easier takeover of the House and with Republican control of the Senate,” Lazada stated. 

Wolbrecht argued that elections where one party wins a massive majority may be becoming a thing of the past.

“We are in this period of incredibly strong mass partisanship, where people’s party ID matches up with their class idea, their ethnic or racial identity matches up with their rural versus urban identity, it matches up with all their religious identity,” Wolbrecht said. “So, people don’t move much.”

Backlash to the overturning of Roe v. Wade by the Supreme Court this summer in the Dobbs v. Jackson case was also discussed as a possible explanation for Republican underperformance.

“Now that the standing Supreme Court decision does not protect the right to access abortions, it may be that, that was enough to sort of mobilize pro-choice voters to vote differently,” Wolbrecht said.

Lozada argued that Dobbs may have spurred an increase in Democratic fundraising.

“Whether or not it animated individual voters, it animated fundraising, it animated other elements of the political machinery that can help turn out votes,” he said.

Ramirez argued that young, particularly latino voters, are more pro-choice and may have helped Democrats.

Wolbrecht did admit, however, that it is unclear what the effect of Dobbs v. Jackson was.

“The truth is a lot of the information that we would want to have to sort of decide, was abortion pushing Democrats over in certain places, we just simply don’t have right now,” Wolbrecht cautioned.

According to an article in U.S. News and World Report, in final message to voters, many Democrats emphasized the importance of protecting democracy in this election, with President Biden claiming that “democracy is on the ballot.” When asked how democracy did this election, the panelists were cautiously optimistic.

Wolbrecht pointed out that there was a marked decrease in claims of election frauds.

“Players who lost are all conceding their elections,” she stated. “They’re not saying that this one was also stolen. They’re not saying others were stolen.”

Lozada urged the panelists to be cautious, however.

“It seemed a little premature to declare victory for democracy,” Lozada said. “It’s not clear to me that what happened today necessarily proves that or undoes the kind of illiberal term that we’ve seen in some parts of the American political system over the past few years.”

Despite the fact that this year’s election results have not even been finalized yet, discussion turned to the 2024 Presidential election and how Tuesday night’s results might impact potential 2024 candidates.

First discussed was the effect of the race on former President Donald Trump.

“A lot of the Trump backed candidates lost,” Lozada pointed out, citing Republican losses in Pennsylvania, Michigan as well as possibly Arizona and Georgia.

“The easy outcome is this is bad for Trump,” he added. Trump is widely expected to announce his candidacy for president in the coming weeks, which is unusually early for a presidential candidate.

The biggest winner for Republicans this election was Governor Ron DeSantis of Florida who won his reelection bid by almost 20% percentage points after originally being elected in 2018 by a meager 0.4% of votes, according to Politico. Many have pointed to DeSantis as a potential rival to Donald Trump for the Republican nomination for president.

Ramirez argued that the midterm elections positioned DeSantis well for a 2024 run.

“The fact that you had this mini wave in Florida, that puts DeSantis as the winner,” he argued adding, “Relatively poor performance of the Republicans outside of Florida is so much better for Ron DeSantis because it’s like, ‘look, I was unique.’”

When it comes to Democrats in 2024, the panelists pointed out, the implications of this year’s election are not as readily apparent. Lozada argued that this year’s solid showing for Democrats could cause Biden to seek the nomination again, saying, “[maybe] Democrats doing better than expected in this midterm actually, makes the party hang on to Joe Biden longer than they should have, and then to run for reelection.” 

Wolbrecht, on the other hand, argued that the results could cause more Democrats to throw their hat in the ring.

“One interpretation of the 2022 election is that it is a good time to be a Democrat. And so that the nomination in 2024 is all the more valuable, right, because the tide is coming our way,” Wolbrecht said.

In the coming days, or even hours, the results of the election will be finalized, and the fate of the House and the Senate will become clear. No matter the outcome, the country is sure to continue fervently discussing these issues as 2024 quickly approaches.

Contact Liam Kelly at lkelly8@nd.edu.

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Gun sense is common sense in this election

After news about the shooting in Uvalde, Texas, Hank Milius picked up his wife, a retired fourth-grade teacher, from the airport. He could tell that she had not yet heard the news and made sure that they did not listen to the radio or watch TV. He wanted to give her “one night of blissful ignorance” before he broke the news to her. In the morning he let her know what happened, and she burst into tears.

Less than two months into the school year, South Bend schools have already seen at least three instances of gun possession with three students less than 17-years-old. In two of these instances, shots were fired. A student at John Adams High School rightfully states that gun violence is the biggest issue in South Bend today causing “students as well as the community stress and concern.”

Gun violence in the United States and specifically in South Bend is a painful reality for many students, teachers and members of the community. Even though 90% of Hoosiers support background checks, Indiana still fails to pass legislation to implement them. To show South Bend, Ind. and the United States that the people of South Bend want more gun legislation, we must vote for gun-sense candidates to represent us in government.

A gun-sense candidate is a contender for a political office who seeks to implement safer regulations into the purchase and handling of guns. They essentially advocate for gun control laws, which would end up restricting gun ownership and lowering the impact of gun violence on American citizens. They support different methods to reduce gun violence like requiring background checks for the purchase of firearms, raising the minimum age for gun purchases, and the enforcement of mandatory safety features to reduce the number of accidental gun deaths. They also support assault rifle bans which consist of dismissing the sale and production of “all semiautomatic rifles that can accept a detachable magazine and have at least one military feature.”

To reduce gun violence in South Bend, we must vote for gun-sense candidates this November and every election. Two candidates on the ballot in this election who have pledged to address the threat of gun violence are Thomas McDermott for the U.S. Senate and Melinda Fountain for the State Senate.

McDermott, a Navy veteran, currently serves as the mayor of Hammond, Ind. As a father of four, he is familiar with the fear every parent experiences sending their children to school after reading the latest headline reporting yet another school shooting. He supports a ban on military-style assault rifles — the weapon used to kill seven and injure another 48 Americans as they tried to celebrate the 4th of July in Highland Park, Ill.

Melinda Fountain agrees with Ind. law enforcement that Hoosiers should have a permit to carry firearms. Permit-less carry laws are associated with a 13% increase in gun homicides and a 29% increase in violent gun crimes. She shares the opinion of 90% of Hoosiers that every gun sale should require a background check, a policy corresponding with 15% fewer homicides than in states without background checks.

Both of these candidates agree that gun violence is a public safety issue our elected officials must address. Gun safety is not teaching children to cower in the corner of their classrooms. Gun safety is taking proactive measures to ensure that no child ever finds themselves in that position. We should not have to live in fear of gun violence while our representatives fail to deliver policies proven to decrease it.

With every mass shooting, we mourn the lives lost as a result of gun violence and fear for the safety of those we love. We should use this as motivation for change in politicians and current flawed gun legislation. As a nation, we can stand together to prevent any more losses. By participating in midterm elections and electing gun-sense candidates, we can create a safer environment for those around us, as well as work to make this country a safer place for students, teachers and every other citizen of this country.

Luzolo Matundu
junior

Yamileth Lara
sophomore

Matthew Ruff
sophomore

Nov. 3

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Students share main priorities this midterm cycle

As election day draws nearer, non-local Notre Dame students are sending mail-in ballots back home to cast their vote, many for the first time. The issues they care about are varied, though abortion, both for pro-choice and pro-life students, is a common concern among students.

First-year Theo Austin, who sent his absentee ballot back to his home in Pittsburgh earlier this week, said he predominantly votes for pro-choice candidates. That meant that on his ballot, he voted for all Republicans.

“I view abortion as the murder of children and the fact that millions are murdered every year in our country legally is an atrocity,” Austin said. “While we can debate about economics, foreign policy, I don’t see any other issue having the effects directly on the lives of millions.”

Though she also aligns more with Republicans than Democrats, first-year Kerry O’Donoghue said her pro-choice views are among her strongest opinions.

“I have a pretty strong view on abortion issues,” she said. “I feel like forcing women to do something that they don’t necessarily want to do is probably not the best choice. Someone with more of a pro-choice perspective would appeal to me more.”

O’Donoghue, who is from Long Island, New York, said she will be “voting more for the person than the party.” Sophomore Daniel Jung, who sent his absentee ballot back home to Tampa, Florida, held a similar view.

“I’m a pretty big Catholic, so definitely someone who espouses Catholic values is something that’s important to me,” Jung said. 

Jung, a registered Independent, most strongly supports pro-life candidates but said the issue isn’t as important to him for more local candidates. On his ballot for this election, he voted for both Republican and Democrat candidates.

“For bigger positions, I tend to lean right because the issues get magnified and candidates take on issues that have pretty big implications for what the state does and the next four years,” he said. “But for lower positions like soil conservation, I don’t care what your stance is on abortion. I’m going to vote for the best person for the job, in my opinion.”

Second-year graduate student Kyle Dillon, another Long Island, New York resident, voted for all Democrats. Suffolk County, where he is from, is a predominantly Republican county and Dillon views his vote as important to show a Democrat presence in his local election.

“I vote Democratic knowing that my vote doesn’t really make an impact either way. It’s just showing the numbers that there still are people that are supporting a party whose voices still need to be heard,” Dillon said. “When it comes to midterms I’m not really thinking the most about the issues.”

First-year Molly Sullivan, from Palo Alto, California, said she will be voting Democrat largely in opposition to former president Donald Trump and because her views on gun reform, human rights, and racial and LGBTQ issues align more with Democrats.

“I don’t agree with a lot of what [Trump] says, so that kind of makes me go to the other side,” she said.

Junior Hannah Schmitz will be voting all-Republican on her absentee ballot, which she’ll be sending back to her home in Ohio. 

“A lot of the issues that matter most to me are the pro-life movement and my dad is a small business owner. So, whichever one he feels would help his business the most, and that’s usually Republican ideals, that’s who I tend to vote for,” she said.

But also there are many students who didn’t vote. In junior and registered Independent Dennis Hutchison’s case, he didn’t vote because he didn’t think it would matter.

“I don’t really think that who I elect matters because things in the federal government don’t really change all that much from administration to administration,” Hutchison said.  “I think that my vote locally matters more in terms of who my local politicians are because that more so directly impacts my life.”

Vicki Gillespie, a sophomore from Irving, Texas, didn’t vote because she was unaware of the process she had to go through to register to vote outside of her state. If she was able to vote like she had hoped, though, Gillespie said “education and making things better for marginalized people” were the most important issues to her.

Sophomore and Cleveland native Elizabeth Horwitz said she also would have liked to vote, but didn’t get around to obtaining her absentee ballot in time.

“I just didn’t put the time in,” she said. “I feel like, especially being at school, it’s a little more difficult to get the ballots and I never went through the process of getting it mailed. But I definitely would like to vote.”

Contact Liam Price at lprice3@nd.edu.

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On tearing down the ballot wall

“For the 1st time ever … I VOTED!”

A message sent to my family group chat on November 3, 2020 at 7:12 a.m. My mother had just left her regular 12-hour graveyard shift at the police dispatch. While most people would be hauling it to sleep after clocking out, she was among the first in line to cast her ballot at the church around the corner that morning. And not just any ballot. Her first ballot. 

2020 marked a milestone for my family: the first election in which every voting-age member of our household could vote. After more than 20 years of fighting through our deeply broken immigration system — and, in turn, being sidelined from a series of critical elections — that year, my mother, a Colombian immigrant, became a United States citizen and, then, a registered voter. And, that November, our family’s deep love for this country was fulfilled in a new and powerful way. We went to the polls that year. And, with us, we brought our joy.

Three months later, on Jan. 6, a violent mob of traitorous insurrectionists threatened to take all of that away. And, once again, we were reminded of that “one step forward, two steps back” reality of progress in our country, unrelentingly experienced by the communities we come from.

Since 2000, Latinos have represented one of the “largest contributors to the electorate’s rise,” according to Pew Research. In turn, our participation has also been pronounced. In 2020, 16.6 million Latino voters turned out to vote — representing the “largest racial or ethnic minority” turnout in 2020, per Pew. (My mother, at long last, among them). And, as the US Latino population continues to grow, this trend can be expected to continue.

These numbers carry a glimmer of optimism for our community’s representation in our great American experiment. But they must also prompt us to speak truth about the barriers that we, and other underrepresented groups, face to exercising our right to vote.

I find no small coincidence that chants of “stop the steal” and “build the wall” follow a harrowingly synergistic cadence.

Voter suppression is born of a politics of ‘walling,’ in which participatory rights inherent to citizenship have been diluted, nullified and even outright denied to historically underrepresented and marginalized communities. This is a construction project that has played out across decades of our country’s battle with racism and segregation. It is a blueprint laid out before the nation on Jan. 6. And it is a terrifying reality for our communities.

The architects of the ballot wall have designed it in the style of widespread distrust, sown in our democratic processes and insidiously directed at the participation of communities of color. We’ve seen this, for example, in the barrage of lawsuits that followed the 2020 election, in which legal scholar Atiba R. Ellis uncovered a common thread: “the litigation […] focused principally not on the practices of a particular state, but on the practices in cities or counties that were principally urban or otherwise contained a significant presence of people of color.” Under the guise of uncovering voter fraud, this legal campaign represented a tactile assault on the ballots of thousands of Black and Brown voters — an attempt to wield the law as a means of demarcating a ‘them’ versus an ‘us.’

Though the former president’s legal team was widely unsuccessful in court, a ballot wall of their design is nevertheless under construction, as we speak.

One year after the election, 19 states successfully passed laws restricting voting rights, per research from the Brennan Center for Justice. Four hundred and forty laws, nationwide, were proposed. Thirty four were codified. And as we rang in 2022, more than 250 restrictive bills were introduced across various statehouses, with provisions including voter purges, poll closings, restrictive ID requirements, non-independent surveillance over ballot integrity and the creation of so-called ‘voter fraud police’ forces. These laws are anticipated to impact Black and Latino voters, particularly, by disparately augmenting their cost of voting. 

Brick by brick, law by law, the ballot wall is being fortified all around us — threatening to suppress and silence the voices of millions, nationwide. Its expedited construction process offers a grim outlook for the future of our democracy. And, for our communities, it tells the story of a future where our rights to participate fall further from our grasp.

While this truth we face is bleak, we must hold fast to hope. 

As Latino Heritage Month concludes less than one month before the November midterms, may our annual, month-long celebration serve as a reminder of both the growing contributions of Latinos to our democracy and the inherent strength that each of us has to affect change and transform our communities.

May it be a time when we come together to take part in reducing the costs of voting for our querida familia, friends and neighbors by registering them to vote and helping them make a plan to turn out in November.

May it be a season of acknowledging that the fight for our democracy is far from over, and that our elected officials must be held accountable to pass transformative federal reform — including the Freedom to Vote Act and the John Lewis Voting Rights Act — which will help bring the ballot wall’s construction to a halt.

And may it be a rallying cry for us to turn out as we’ve never turned out before, to reject a politics of walls and exclusion and embrace a democracy that advances fierce inclusion and equality for all. 

Let’s flood the polls this November with our voices and our votes, and make it clear that this democracy belongs to all of us — it’s our vote, nuestro voto, nosso voto, vòt nou. We will not, and cannot, stop fighting until every member of our community has the equal and unequivocal right to bring their strength, pride and joy to the voting booth. And this election — mere weeks after Latino Heritage Month — may we embody the power that every single one of us has to directly confront and tear down the walls we face.

Nicholas Crookston (’23) is a student of political science and global affairs, with a minor in Latino studies and a concentration in the Klau Institute for Civil & Human Rights. He is a member of ND’s Write to Vote chapter. 

W2V is the Notre Dame chapter of the national Write to Vote Project, a non-partisan, pro-democracy initiative. Its goal is to support democracy, encourage civic engagement and advance voting rights in the U.S. and around the world. You can contact NDW2V at ndw2v@nd.edu.

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‘The ballot is stronger than the bullet’

“The ballot is stronger than the bullet.”

And coming from Abraham Lincoln, that must really mean something.

All jokes aside, ballots stitch our democracy together. Without them, the power of leaders would go unchecked, public interests would be sacrificed for personal gain and the government of the people, by the people, for the people would in fact perish from the Earth. You would expect such a powerful tool to have widespread adoption.

Instead, as many as 1 in 4 eligible voters are not registered. How can this be?

This is not a problem inherent in democracy, but in the United States. Most nations automatically register eligible individuals. In the U.S., however, 18 year-olds are responsible for registering themselves. Further, address, name or party affiliation changes all require registration updates, without which you can be barred from voting. This process has been simplified by the increasing availability of online registration, but over 20% of states don’t provide this option. Many states also require registration in advance of election day, sometimes up to 30 days. And if you’re a college student? Add extra time to mail your registration, be approved, mail in your request for an absentee ballot, be approved and send an absentee ballot, fill it out and mail it back before Nov. 8. Get the picture?

One organization is working to change the narrative. National Voter Registration Day is a nonpartisan movement that coordinates a push for voter registration every September. They find community partners such as libraries, companies and schools who are willing to provide places for people to register. They create content for social media and recruit influencers to explain the registration process on various platforms. News blasts on both local and national levels draw awareness to the campaign. And over 20,000 volunteers help run registration drives and initiatives. This year, the nationwide effort was led by Secretaries of State Michael Adams (R-KY) and Steve Simon (D-MN) with the collaboration of numerous organizations. One week ago, Sept. 20, was National Voter Registration Day this year. Since its inception in 2012, 4.7 million voters have registered on this holiday alone. 

Even if you missed last week’s holiday, there is still time to avoid being the 1 in 4 people unable to participate in democracy. There are four main (and easier than you think!) steps to voting in college.

  1. Register!

Vote.org does a great job of aggregating the voting laws of every state in one location. They connect you to online registration for your state or the proper form to be mailed in. Do not delay this step! The rest of the steps require your registration to be complete (and some states have early registration deadlines).

  1. Request an absentee ballot!

Vote.org can once again connect you to the resources to do this. Some states allow you to do this online, while others require a paper request to be mailed in. Even though election day is in November, you need to start the process now, lest your ballot be silenced due to a missed deadline.

  1. Vote, and vote informed!

After several rounds of governmental procedures, you finally got your ballot: congrats! Now it is important for you to not only vote, but to vote informed. As former president John F. Kennedy once said, “The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.” Don’t be a misinformed or uninformed voter. Your ballot has an impact that, if misused, can have dire consequences. Fortunately, there are a few ways to avoid this. First, ballotready.org is a fantastic resource that collects nonpartisan information on the candidates and issues on your ballot. Second, online versions of your local newspaper are another good source. (Recognize, however, that newspapers often have candidate information from explicitly partisan sources.) 

  1. Don’t forget the bottom of the ballot!

Local elections need your voice. Do you have a younger sibling? Your vote for the board of education will affect them. Do you have a family friend who owns a business? Your vote for the town manager will affect them. Do you plan on living in your hometown or state again? Your vote for town council or state representative will be affecting you and your future family’s lives. These offices, often mistaken for small and inconsequential, affect the lives of you and your loved ones directly. Research and vote for them accordingly.

Democracy’s participatory nature is quite messy, but it is the best way we know how to justly govern. However, democratic institutions cannot do this on their own. They require the time, effort and care of each one of its citizens. The buck stops with you. Will you register to vote, request an absentee ballot and make informed decisions? Or will your apathy starve our democracy? The strength of your ballot is up to you.

Audrey Feldman (’24) is majoring in Economics and Global Affairs and minoring in PPE (Philosophy, Politics, & Economics). She is a member of ND’s Write to Vote chapter.

W2V is the Notre Dame chapter of the national Write to Vote Project, a non-partisan, pro-democracy initiative. Its goal is to support democracy, encourage civic engagement and advance voting rights in the U.S. and around the world. You can contact NDW2V at ndw2v@nd.edu

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SMC votes hosts ‘Rock the Vote’

Editor’s Note: Crystal Ramirez is a former Associate News Editor for The Observer.

SMC Votes hosted ‘Rock the Vote’, Wednesday at 6:30 p.m. in Belle’s Backyard. The event featured voting resources, treats and live entertainment. Bellacapella and the Pearl performed while attendees requested region specific voting information and voted for the Most Popular Dog on Campus.

Saint Mary’s students relax and chat during the “Rock the Vote’ event on Wednesday September 21.

Rock the vote was an event created “to increase voter engagement and celebrate democracy,” SMC Votes co-coordinator Libbey Detcher said. The live music, furry friends, and numerous resources fostered a welcoming environment for people to come and get information on voter registration and requesting absentee ballots. 

“[Rock the Vote is] a positive way to bring people together. I feel like a lot of people in our generation are passive, but if you want change you’re going to have to actively work for it and voting is one way you can do that,” sophomore McKenzie McDaniel said. 

SMC Votes is an initiative under the Office for the Common Good. “[SMC Votes helps students with] registering to vote, requesting absentee ballots or making some kind of voting plan,” Detcher explained. 

Founded in 2018, SMC Votes has worked diligently to improve the civic engagement of the student body. “SMC Votes started in 2018 after we realized our voter registration and voter participation rates were really below national averages,” Director of the Office for the Common Good Rebekah Go recounted. 

With an issue at hand, Go and the Office of the Common Good immediately took action under the new initiative. “We started making concerted efforts to get students engaged in the process [by] helping them register and figure out how to vote, which is complicated because absentee ballot wielding is not streamlined at all,” Go said. 

Since 2018, SMC Votes has made “significant strides” in increasing voter registration and participation with around a “30% increase” according to Go. The ultimate goal is to reach 100% of eligible voter participation at the college. 

“We’re trying to get students excited about the electoral process and this fall’s midterm elections,” Go said as she reminded students that “their voice matters”. The two clubs featured at the event, the Saint Mary’s College Democrats and the Saint Mary’s College Political Science Club, provide students with a way to get involved with the field of politics in addition to exercising their right to vote. 

“We are an official chapter of the statewide College Democrats of Indiana and we are here to represent and get more engagement. [As] a brand new club here at Saint Mary’s [we are] looking to build community and are excited for the semester,” President of the Saint Mary’s College Democrats Crystal Ramirez detailed. 

SMC Votes plans to host numerous events throughout the year including mobile voting, constitution day and educational events in the spring. “We are planning on hosting debate watches for district two on Oct. 4, and it’s just for students to come if they want to watch the debate, do their homework, de-stress, chill out, or whatever they want,” SMC Votes co-coordinator Jeanett Ochoa said.

Students should contact the Office for the Common Good at ocg@saintmarys.edu or stop by the Student Center for more information on voting and getting registered to vote.

“Everybody just wants their voice to be heard and I think voting is one way that everyone can come together for some kind of common cause,” Detcher said.

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Viewpoint

Religion is for Democrats too, not just Republicans

You wouldn’t be alone in associating religion with the Republican Party and secularism with the Democratic Party. Over the last several decades, the rise of the Religious Right has cemented the fact that the Republican Party is dominated by white evangelicals inserting religious views into the party platform. Today, that sentiment is only reinforced as Republican candidates infuse Christianity into their campaign strategy. At Republican rallies this year, we’ve witnessed praise music, prayer, and other practices typically associated with religious worship. These religious practices at campaign events aren’t superfluous either, as Republican candidates call to end the separation between church and state and declare the United States a Christian nation. The Democratic Party, on the other hand, has struggled with religion due to the diverse religious and non-religious portions of its membership. In an effort to not alienate voters, Democrats have avoided religious rhetoric, often joined by criticism that they aren’t doing enough outreach to religious voters. 

However, that appears to be changing. During the 2020 election, a significant number of Democrats engaged in religious outreach. During the primary campaign, then-Mayor Pete Buttigieg routinely referenced his faith to demonstrate that Democrats can be religious too. In one debate, Buttigieg employed a religious offensive against the Republican Party for hypocrisy between its platform and profession of Christianity. Other presidential hopefuls like Senators Cory Booker and Elizabeth Warren and then-Senator Kamala Harris also utilized religious rhetoric, speaking about their connection to G-d and specifically Christianity. President Joe Biden worked on extensive outreach to white Catholic and white evangelical voters, reducing former President Donald Trump’s performance among those groups enough to help solidify his victory. 

Religion also made an appearance with both Democratic candidates for the two seats in the 2020-2021 U.S. Senate elections in Georgia. Senators Warnock and Ossoff’s election was a pivotal moment for the Democratic Party, securing a majority in the Senate. The infusion of his progressive views and background as pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church, where Dr. Martin Luther King preached, was a key factor in Senator Raphael Warnock’s victory. Although more hesitant to mention religion during the campaign, Senator Jon Ossoff referenced the Jewish values that informed his political views and became the first Jewish candidate to win statewide office in the South since 1974.

Additionally, we’re witnessing candidates in the 2022 midterm elections build off the religious momentum over the last several years. Warnock has made religion a central message of his reelection campaign, emphasizing the joint nature of devotion to faith and commitment to social justice. His messaging routinely references his religious work and how it informs his political views. Just like it delivered him for his initial election, Warnock is hoping Georgia voters will be drawn to his religious fervor. 

Also in Georgia, the Democratic candidate for governor, Stacey Abrams, uses religion, but in a different way. As abortion becomes a pressing issue in all elections after the overturning of Roe v. Wade, Abrams has discussed the role her faith has played in shaping her views on the subject. She’s openly discussed how her upbringing by Methodist preachers informed her initial stance against abortion, but she’s since changed her beliefs after viewing it as a health issue, not a moral one. Her approach to abortion opens a new vantage point for Democrats to reach voters who may be personally opposed to abortion, but are hesitant to attempts throughout the country to reduce access to it. 

In Pennsylvania, Attorney General Josh Shapiro is running for governor openly as a Jew and refusing to cede religious voters to his opponent, Doug Mastriano, a state senator. Shapiro has used his devout faith to reach out to religious voters, especially Black Protestants in the state by attending worship services and speaking from the pulpit. He’s routinely referenced his faith during campaign events, hoping that some voters who typically vote Republican on religious grounds consider switching. Among other Democratic candidates who employ religious rhetoric, he’s especially notable for attacking Christian nationalism as an assault on religious liberty, especially for religious minorities.

Although religion may appear to be a new winning strategy for Democrats, it isn’t risk-free. In the last two decades, Democrats themselves have become less religious in their membership. This isn’t to say that non-religious Democrats would vote Republican, but it does risk alienation and low voter turnout. These candidates are wagering that religious rhetoric will either deliver more voters or drive voters away from Republicans, but the threat of alienation will always be present for a party as religiously diverse as the Democratic Party. This isn’t to argue that Democrats who reference religion will lose (we’ve seen that’s not always the case), but to point out there’s a reason why Democrats have been cautious about religious rhetoric in the past. Even if elected, the division in the Democratic Party between the religious and non-religious suggests that while religious rhetoric may contribute to electoral victory, it doesn’t necessarily translate to religious influence in policymaking. 

This column is not an endorsement of religion as a political tool for Democrats or Republicans. The question of religion’s role in politics is separate from my observations of the trends in the Democratic Party. The last few years are a demonstration that Democrats can successfully utilize religion as an outreach method on the campaign trail. Although religion may still be tied heavily to the Republican Party, we’re beginning to see pushback from the Democratic Party and a potential shift in the way that religion operates in the political sphere. 

Blake Ziegler is a senior at Notre Dame studying political science, philosophy and constitutional studies. He enjoys writing about Judaism, the good life, pressing political issues and more. Outside of The Observer, Blake serves as president of the Jewish Club and a teaching assistant for God and the Good Life. He can be reached at @NewsWithZig on Twitter or bziegler@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.