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Saturday, April 20, 2024 — Houston, TX

Don’t skip the 2022 midterm elections

Photo courtesy Alexa Thomases

By Alexa Thomases     9/13/22 11:10pm

Editor’s Note: This is a guest opinion that has been submitted by a member of the Rice community. The views expressed in this opinion are those of the author and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of the Thresher or its editorial board. All guest opinions are fact-checked to the best of our ability and edited for clarity and conciseness by Thresher editors.

With no presidential election at stake in 2022, do this year’s midterm elections even matter that much? I wasn’t sure until I saw the complete list of offices up for election in Texas this November. Most notably, the midterm election will determine the next Texas Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Attorney General, both chambers of the Texas Legislature and all 38 U.S. Representatives. 

The race for Governor will be particularly contentious: it pits Republican incumbent Greg Abbott against former U.S. House member Democrat Beto O’Rourke. Their platforms and campaign promises clash on nearly every issue, from climate change to marijuana legalization. To skeptics who argue that all politicians are essentially carbon copies of each other, this is certainly not the case in the Texas gubernatorial race. 

Down-ballot races will be just as consequential. The volatile political backdrop in which these midterms are being held will allow Texas to shift significantly towards the political left or right over the next two years. In the wake of the mass shooting at an elementary school in Uvalde, Texas that left 21 dead, gun control and police presence in schools will be a focal point. Additionally, abortion rights hang in jeopardy in Texas due to the abortion ban that took effect after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June. Another pressing issue for Texas voters is the state’s power grid. Various extreme weather events have exposed its flaws, but this November’s candidates back widely differing solutions. 

Although these issues may seem abstract or distant, they’re bound to impact the Rice community intimately. Rice is not insulated from legislation governing Texas or the United States. As a concrete example, on-campus students were asked in a Sept. 8 email from Rice Facilities Engineering & Planning to reduce their daily energy use due to vulnerabilities in Texas’ power grid.  More generally, the chances that members of the Rice community will need to seek reproductive health services or will know someone affected by gun violence are high. Our collective quality of life is undeniably dependent on the future of the climate. To live in a democracy is to be implicated in the wellbeing of the collective — and as such, it’s our responsibility to be civically engaged. 

If you’re registered to vote in a state other than Texas, your ballot will likely feature candidates with starkly contrasting views on inflation, Russia’s war on Ukraine, reproductive rights and other issues. Further, many of your home jurisdiction’s local policies may hang in the balance too. Since voting by mail requires you to send in your ballot early, it’s advisable to look into your state’s procedure as soon as you can. 

If you’re convinced that this year’s midterm elections matter immensely, it’s time to make a voting plan. The deadline to register to vote in Harris County is Oct. 11. All you need to do is fill out the application online or in print from your College Coordinator’s office and mail it in. It takes less than ten minutes – but please don’t leave it until the last day. 

You’ve got options for when to cast your vote: Early Voting is open from Oct. 24 to Nov. 4, with the nearest polling location in the Medical Center at 6550 Bertner Ave. On Election Day, which is Nov. 8 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., you’ll need to look no further than the Cohen House right here on campus to cast your ballot. Pick a time and slot it in your calendar so it doesn’t slip through the cracks. Make sure to bring a valid ID and check out your sample ballot beforehand.

The 2022 midterm elections are too consequential to be left up to everyone else. If you needed a sign not to skip the midterm elections, this is it. Happy voting!

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