Above: Stacey Abrams (Georgia Gubernatorial Candidate), Sharon Tucker (Reelected Allen County Councilwoman), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (U.S. Representative-elect for New York's 14th congressional district), Andrew Gillium (Florida Gubernatorial Candidate), Keith Ellison (Attorney General-elect of Minnesota), Lucia McBath (House of Representative-elect for Georgia's 6th congressional district), and Denita Washington (Adams County Township Trustee-elect)
The after shocks from the 2018 Midterm Elections were branded with many names: #BlueWave, #WomenWave…I heard them called a #PurpleWave. However you want to frame the midterms, you can’t call them a wrap. As of this issue’s printing, governorships in Georgia and Florida are headed for a recount, with accusations of voter suppression, tampering, and purging across the board.
Georgia’s gubernatorial candidate, Democrat Stacey Abrams, as early as 2 a.m. the next morning, tweeted the opposite of a concession letter: “Georgia still has a decision to make. If I wasn’t your first choice, or if you didn’t vote, you’re going to have a chance to do a do-over.” The races are too close to call with write-in votes still needing to be counted and paper ballots still being found in places they shouldn’t have been.
Specifically in Georgia, hundreds of voters stood in line for hours at a Southwest Atlanta polling place; only three voting machines were brought in to service the densely populated community of majorly filled African-Americans. Cobb County Georgia saw roughly half of its voting machines sequestered, another 700 were out of service in Fulton County, along with just under 600 in Dekalb. The issue at a polling place in Snellville, Georgia was a lack of power cords; the machine were fully functional, but without a power source the batteries just ran out, according to Gwinnett County Director of Communications Joe Sorenson.
Validity of the process and historic strength in diversity, women and LGBTQ candidates especially, were the themes of the night. Ayanna Pressley became the first Black congresswoman from Massachusetts. Democrats Sylvia Garcia and Veronica Escobar were elected the first Latinx Congresswomen in Texas. Democrats Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are the first Muslim women elected to Congress. New Mexico’s Deb Haaland and Kansas’ Sharice Davids became the first Native American women elected to Congress. Democrat Keith Ellison, who famously predicted the Trump presidency on national television a year before it happened, was just elected the first Muslim statewide official in the U.S. as Minnesota’s attorney general. Democrat Jared Polis became the first only gay man elected governor, winning in Colorado, and Tennessee’s Angie Craig (D) was elected the first lesbian mother in Congress.
African-American Democrat Lucia McBath, mother of Jordan Davis, who, in 2012, was shot and killed because his music was too loud, won a House of Representative member for Georgia's 6th congressional district. She was one of a record-breaking 117 women elected to office.
Those concerned about the voting passions of Millennials had their concerns assuaged. The youth vote was the highest it’s been in 25 years. They weren’t the only voters implored to exercise their birthright. The long voting lines across the U.S., attributed to sequestered and malfunctioning voting machines, for sure, were also an indicator of a more fevered voting country.
The surge can also be attributed to early voting opportunities and same-day voter registration in 16 states, including neighbors Illinois and Wisconsin, excluding Indiana.
The typically held opinion is that most midterm elections are a direct refute on the current administration; 2018 was no different. Not only is the country’s legislative branch more diverse than ever, as of November 10, out of the 75 candidates that President Trump supported or endorsed, only 21(28%) won their races.
Criminal justice reform across the country had a big November 6. Nashville, Tennessee passed Amendment 1 for the creation of a police oversight board with subpoena power to investigate and make recommendations on police misconduct claims. Civil rights attorney Anita Earls’ win over GOP Justice Barbara Jackson extended the Democrats’ majority on the North Carolina Supreme Court, potentially crucial for advancing, among other things, voting rights litigation.
The State of Florida repealed one of the country’s worst Jim Crow laws, when it passed Amendment 4 that restored the voting rights to 1.4 million people with a past felony conviction. The amendment represents one of the largest expansions in voting rights since the creation of the Voting Rights Act. For comparison sake, the number of restored voters in Florida is greater than the combined populations of Alaska, Delaware, Montana, Maine, New Hampshire, North Dakota, South Dakota, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Wyoming.
Florida, infamously known worldwide for its voting controversies, including what went down this year over the governor’s seat, is one of big swing states that helped Donald Trump win the presidency. The returned voters could move the needle in a more Democratic direction. Louisiana, also in a Jim Crow-defeating mood, ended the state’s longstanding edict that allowed for felony convictions without a unanimous jury.