It's Election Day and this year’s midterms are on the minds of millions of Americans, as the vote lends more clarity to the future of America’s political spectrum.
And the student vote is expected to have a significant impact on the final results, with the Florida gubernatorial and senatorial races still too close to call.
“I think this election is an important one because, after the presidential election in 2016, people saw how the country actually works. Some people were happy, and some people were miserable, but everyone seemed to understand how voting affects our country,” sophomore Nisreen Atallah said. “I think this is why the voter turnout for early voting was so intense. This race can change the Florida House and flip the state completely blue or completely red, where we’ve usually been a swing state in the past.”
Midterms are the general elections held in the middle of a president’s term. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for election as well as 35 in the Senate. Also, 36 of 50 states vote in a gubernatorial election.
According to a recent poll by Harvard, 40 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds planned to vote in the midterm elections.
Hillsborough County Supervisor of Elections Craig Latimer said in a press release Monday that 41 percent of the county's eligible voters have already voted, which will likely surpass last midterm's total turnout of 49 percent.
“Every vote counts,” sophomore Brandon Fuqua said. “If more college students voted, it would greatly impact politics. I vote because I want a say in how things are done.”
Aside from early voting in the Yuengling Center, students can vote in the Marshall Student Center today.
Jacob Lenamond, a senior, said Florida’s political arena is due for a change.
“Florida needs progress and change,” Lenamond said. “[Florida] has been gridlocked by people who fight science and all things that make our state beautiful and welcoming for too long.”
One of the most contentious races is for governor. Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum (D) has visited campus three times to campaign. His opponent, Ron DeSantis (R), a veteran, has not visited USF for campaigning purposes at all.
Julianna Lark, a junior, said Gillum may have a better understanding of issues students care about, but that all students should vote, no matter whom they support.
“I want Gillum to win because I feel his values match mine pretty closely,” Lark said. “I think more students need to vote because elections impact our future.”
When it comes to the gubernatorial ticket, USF student Allen Erwin will be voting red but echoed Lark’s points on the importance of voting.
“I want DeSantis to win,” Erwin said. “I think it is really important that college students vote because it’s the only way to truly communicate what we want when no one will take us seriously.”
Some of the key issues Gillum has pushed for are the expansion of Medicaid and more gun restrictions. DeSantis, who has served in Congress, is campaigning for stricter immigration laws and replacing the Affordable Care Act, among other things.
It is these issues that Shianne Carter, a junior, said matter most this election.
“I want Gillum to win because he would be the first Democratic governor in 20 years and the first African-American to be a Florida governor,” Carter said. “Gillum winning will change politics for the better. He’s big on gun control and that is something that should be changed, because of all of the recent events that have been happening, like the Parkland shooting and the shooting in Tallahassee.”
Polling precincts in Hillsborough County are open today from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.