For Renee McNear, voting in elections is important because people in her family didn’t have the ability to vote until the 15th amendment, which gave Black men the right to vote, and the 19th amendment, which gave women the right to vote. Now, she has the opportunity to take advantage of the right.
“In my generation, my family, there were many of them that could not vote,” said McNear, who is the leader of Philadelphia’s 20th Ward. “It’s important to vote, why not?”
In Philadelphia, polls were open on Nov. 8 from 7 a.m. and any voter standing in line by 8 p.m. was able to cast a ballot.
Pennsylvania Attorney General Josh Shapiro (D), State Sen. Doug Mastriano (R-33), Christine DiGulio (Green), Matt Hackenburg (L) and Joe Soloski (Keystone) vied for Pennsylvania’s governorship. There was no incumbent for the gubernatorial race because Gov. Tom Wolf’s (D) last term expires in early 2023.
Pennsylvania Lt. Gov. John Fetterman (D), Mehmet Oz (R), Erik Gerhardt (L), Richard Weiss (Green) and Daniel Wassmer (Keystone) competed for the open seat in the United States Senate. Sen. Pat Toomey currently holds one of Pennsylvania’s U.S. Senate seats, but decided not to run for reelection.
Whoever wins this race could impact the 50-50 split in the body, giving one of the parties a majority.
In this year’s election, students feel there are candidates they can fully support rather than being forced to choose between the lesser of two evils, said Natalee Hails, a freshman sociology major.
“I’ve never been able to 100 percent back and have a politician’s full support,” Hails said. “I think being all in for voting for [Fetterman] and like genuinely wanting him to win is probably what differs this from past elections.”
The midterm election is especially important for women, McNear said.
“We’re talking about safety, we’re talking about many issues that we’ve never had on a midterm election,” McNear said. “So all of these points are important, whether you as a person have one issue that’s important to you, you should vote for that, if all the issues, you can vote for that, too.”
Abortion is one of the high-stakes issues on this year’s ballot. Shapiro vowed to protect abortion access, while Mastriano wants to restrict the procedure.
Without Shapiro’s plan to veto any bill that would ban abortion, it will be completely illegal in Pennsylvania, said Lauren Jacob, a junior public health major and vice president of Temple College Democrats.
Pennsylvania’s legislature requires a majority vote in favor of legislation before it’s brought to the governor. Republicans currently control Pennsylvania’s General Assembly by occupying 28 of 50 Senate seats and 113 of the 203 House seats. At times, the body has attempted to restrict abortion access, but the current Gov. Tom Wolf has vetoed prior attempts.
Fifty-six percent of Temple voters feel that abortion is the most important issue in this election, according to a November poll from The Temple News. Eighty-seven percent of Temple voters said they plan to cast their vote for Fetterman, while 88 percent said they will cast their vote for Shapiro.
“There’s a lot of issues that affect students,” said Chris Carey, senior associate dean of students. “Making sure that they are involved and participating in the process is really important and we’ve talked a lot through the Temple Votes program about students getting registered in Philadelphia to be a part of the community and get invested in what’s happening.”
Temple Votes is a non-partisan initiative that aims to provide students with voter registration, education and mobilization efforts.
Temple Student Government partnered with Temple Votes to encourage students to register to vote and cast their ballots ahead of time. The two organizations hosted voter registration events up until Pennsylvania’s voter registration deadline on Oct. 24.
There has been a noticeable increase in voter turnout among young people, McNear said.
“This is good to see, especially students that are concerned about, you know, their future,” McNear said. “This is what it is, it’s the future.”
“It’s a very easy way to make sure your voice is heard,” said Lucas Bowerman, a political science major. “I know a lot of young people feel disaffected because the world can look bleak sometimes but the way that you’re able to change that and the way you’re able to change the future is to elect people who can make the world a better place.”