voter suppression

Voter Suppression: A Critique Of Democracy In The United States

What kind of democracy prevents its constituents from having a voice?

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The 2018 midterm elections were definitely one for the books. Millennials and Generation-Z voters took the stage by storm, making the young adult voter turnout in 2018 one hundred and eighty-eight percent that of the young voter turnout in 2014. And that's just in early voting. Early voting was five times higher in 2018 than in 2014 in both Texas and Nevada, turning close and contested Senate races in their favor. Ever since the U.S. Census Bureau started keeping track of voter-age data (1978 for midterm races and 1964 for presidential races), 18-29 year-olds have had the lowest voter turnout out of any age group. This election saw such a huge increase in young voter turnout that some predicted that the youth vote would predict the outcome for this year's election.

After the historic results of the 2018 midterm elections, including the two Muslim-American women elected to Congress and 153 LGBT candidates winning their respective races, it would seem that the 2018 elections were a testament to modern democracy in the United States. However, through all of these unforeseen victories, the issues of voter suppression and election tampering during these midterms were overlooked in favor of praising democracy and increased turnout.

Yes, young adult voters made a it a point to make their way to the polls. Was it easy for them? Not even close…

It's been proven that because six of ten millennials supported Democrats in 2016, Republicans are trying as hard as possible to suppress young voter turnout—several of the recent Republican-led voter reforms targeted the youth vote. Since the 2010 midterms, 24 states implemented some kind of voting restriction. 21 of these 24 states were passed by a Republican legislature. In 2016, students trying to vote in purple states, such as North Carolina and Wisconsin, were forced to cast hundreds of provisional ballots or were simply turned away from the polls because their out-of-state IDs did not meet the new identification laws.

Texas removed more than 400 polling locations between 2013 and 2016, forcing students and other young adults to wait for hours in order to cast their ballots. The remaining polling places were scarcely found and inconveniently located, placing young and black voters at a disadvantage to vote due to lack of car ownership.

In Maryland, election officials told students that they could not register to vote if they listed their college as their address of residence—students were told that since their on-campus housing location was not a permanent address, they were ineligible to vote in their school's district. This contributed to the widespread occurrence of misinformation targeted towards college students, dubbed as "systematic suppression." In addition to this, students were also often told that they could lose financial aid and scholarships if they voted in any county other than their home county—another fact that is 100% untrue but was spread by the Baltimore County Board of Elections.

These instances are not restricted to the states of Texas and Maryland—there has been evidence of attempted voter suppression targeting college students in the states of Arizona and New Hampshire as well. It seems obvious that the people pushing for these supposed election "reforms" (*cough* Republican lawmakers *cough*) are afraid of the effect college students and millennials can and will have on the outcomes of elections. They may try to make voting near-impossible for students, but they are not prepared for the sheer willpower that we all have to make our voices heard and make a difference in who is in charge of our country.

America is praised for our democracy (or at least, it used to be), but no proper country claiming to have a democracy can legitimately try to prevent people from making their voices, opinions, and beliefs heard. Everyone has the right to vote (someone please get these lawmakers to read through the Constitution and its Amendments—they might learn a thing or two), and the people who have the most time left to spend living here are definitely not going to be the people who let old politicians prevent them from making a difference.

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Austin Alexander Burridge, Volunteer Advocate, Shares 3 Great Reasons to Volunteer and Help Others

Austin Alexander Burridge is an avid academic who studies Environmental Science at Winona State University and believes that work in the service of others is a key pillar to personal development.

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Sometimes it's easy for someone to adopt a "me, me, me" attitude. While focusing on oneself, a person may feel nice in the moment, but serving and helping others will bring lasting benefits. While there are many great reasons to serve and help others, there are three universal truths that resonate with volunteers around the globe.

Austin Alexander Burridge's 3 Reasons to Volunteer:

1. Accomplishment

Often, people fall into a trap of focusing on themselves when they are feeling down. Maybe someone did not get a job they wanted. Or perhaps a person gets dumped by an expected lifelong companion. Maybe someone feels they have underachieved after looking at Facebook and seeing great things a high school classmate has accomplished. When feeling down, helping others is a proven way to improve one's mood and attitude, and it can provide a sense of pride and accomplishment. The act of giving to those in need is an inherently good action and leaves people with a wonderful feeling of joy.

2. Gratitude

One can become more appreciative of life by serving others that have less. Whether volunteering at a soup kitchen, visiting the elderly at an assisted living center, or helping families after a natural disaster, service enables people to be grateful for what they have. Seeing people who have fewer advantages, especially those who are spirited and thankful for small things, allows one to realize just how fortunate he/she is in life.

3. Friendships

Volunteering is a great way to build meaningful friendships, not only with other volunteers but also with those who are served. One of the most profound and fascinating aspects of these relationships is how volunteers will learn from those served and vice versa. As these special bonds are built, they lead to impactful connections that last for years to come.

Of course, these are just a few reasons to volunteer and serve others. One can never go wrong by helping others as opposed to merely focusing on oneself. Volunteering invariably and inevitably contributes to personal growth, development, and satisfaction.

About Austin Alexander Burridge: Helping others has been of paramount importance to Austin, and as a part of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA), Austin gave back to the community around him. He also has participated in annual peanut butter drives, The Minnesota Sandwich Project for the Homeless and collected canned goods for local food shelters. Additionally, Austin has a passion for the environment, which he pursued when visiting the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, and the Amazon Rain Forest while studying at the School of Environment Studies, which investigates ecological systems and their sustainability

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Big Slick KC: The Importance Behind Celebrities Coming Together in Kansas City

This annual event is one of my favorite things to attend, and it's the 10th year, so it deserves recognition.

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Every year since 2010, Big Slick KC has been a huge event held in Kansas City, Missouri, where celebrities from our favorite shows and movies come together for one weekend to raise money for Children's Mercy Hospital.

The hosts of Big Slick are none other than Paul Rudd, Eric Stonestreet, Jason Sudeikis, Rob Riggle, and David Koechner. Every year, they invite around 40 celebrities to participate in the weekend's events.

This year had some big names like Selena Gomez, Olivia Wilde, Zachary Levi, Haley Joel Osment, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs, and many more. Each year they try to bring in new people, while also having some Big Slick veterans return.

The busy and wonderful weekend starts out with the celebrities all coming in and visiting the children at Children's Mercy Hospital, spending time with them and taking pictures. I think it's amazing how they take the time to actually get to know some of the kids that they are raising the money for.

After that, the celebrities head to Kauffman Stadium, break up into two teams, and face-off in a not-so-serious softball game before the Royals game. Each celebrity gets their own signature Royals jersey and they play a few innings. They also come out again and sing "Take Me Out to the Ballgame" for the seventh-inning stretch.

The next morning, the celebrities all make their way to the Pinstripes bowling alley in Overland Park, where they are greeted by hundreds of awaiting fans.

After the children of Children's Mercy are introduced and walk along the red carpet with their parents, the celebrities follow, taking pictures and signing autographs along the way. They head inside and bowl with the children from the hospital.

That night, the celebrities all come together one last time to host a huge party, this year it was at the Sprint Center, where they all just perform and have a good time. They also host an auction where some pretty cool items and opportunities are auctioned off.

Besides just being a fun event to attend and a good way to see some of your favorite celebrities up close, Big Slick is just so important because of its cause.

This year, Big Slick KC raised around $2.5 million for Children's Mercy Hospital. That brings the total to over $10 million that Big Slick has raised since 2010.

This amazing weekend is always so much fun, not just because some big stars come to a fly over state, but because of the children that they are raising the money for. The hosts and the celebrities that attend all care so much about the cause, and they make a great weekend out of it for anyone who attends.

I'm already looking forward to next year's exciting weekend.

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