A Project for Better Journalism chapter

What is a midterm election?

Election season is upon us. It’s impossible to avoid, between the ads on your phones and on your televisions and the signs in your neighbor’s lawns. Everyone knows there’s an election, but what exactly are we voting for on November 6th?

This election is the midterm election, a general election that happens every 4 years, usually in the middle of a president’s term. The 435 members of the House of Representatives are up for election every two years, while one-third of the Senate is up for election with six year terms. Thirty-six states are also up for governor elections, including Colorado.

Midterms also determine which party will control the chambers of Congress for the next two years.

No senators are up for re-election in Colorado this year, but there will be a gubernatorial race and there’s many local elections that are happening, such as mayors and different ballot measures as well.

In Colorado, the two candidates up for governor are Jared Polis for the democratic party and Walker Stapleton for the republican side. In the past ten gubernatorial elections in Colorado, Democratic candidates have won six and Republicans have won four, so with Colorado leaning towards the left in past years, it will be up to the voters to decide what will happen at the polls.

Another heated race is happening in the 6th Congressional District of Colorado, which includes Littleton, between Republican Mike Coffman and Democrat Jason Crow. Representative Coffman has held control of this district for almost a decade, so this race could change the tide in our local government. According to political insiders, this contest could also predict what party will control Congress.

Some key measures people will vote for on the ballot include Proposition 112, Amendment 73 and Issue 4A, which directly relates to Littleton Public Schools.

Proposition 112 forbids all gas and oil drilling within 2,500 feet of school and homes, and many people have spoken out about it, including both of the candidates for governor, saying it goes too far and could cripple one of the state’s biggest economic drivers. Environmentalists argue it’s dangerous to drill close to neighborhoods, however and gas and oil lobbies are predicted to spend millions on defeating the measure.

Amendment 73 hopes to focus on school funding, including higher pay for teachers and would pass a statewide tax increase for schools. $1.6 billion would be raised to go to local districts and would be spent in many areas, such as helping students with special needs. Although Coloradans soundly shut down Amendment 66, another statewide tax increase for schools, this measure would only raise taxes for people who make more than 150,000 per year.

Issue 4A relates directly to our school district, as the board approved a bond that will be on our ballots. It will prioritize the needs of schools, students and staff with the $298 billion bond to rebuild Newton Middle School, make a 1,000 person junior-stadium for junior varsity, varsity and club teams, make sure schools are clean and secure, and build a new elementary school where Ames is for the Franklin and Highland communities, among other things.

Although midterm elections are usually looked over and voter turnout numbers are lower compared to a presidential election, for example, voter turnout for general elections this year has increased. This could be because people want to vote, or because of the high stakes in the election this year. Not only are Democrats are vying for control in Colorado and other states, but they also are chasing after a House majority and the Senate.

The outcome of these elections could mean a lot of change for President Trump’s presidency, as well as democratic and republican legislative agendas. If elected, each party could have the power to pass agendas in their favor, block opposing agendas, and approve or deny the President’s Supreme Court nominees.

If the Republican party still has power after the elections, they could give repealing and replacing Obamacare another try, and if Democrats take power they could block several measures put in place by Republicans and attempt to not enact them. They could also launch impeachment against President Trump.

So, yes, the ads and the signs and the papers in the mail are stressful and overwhelming, but no matter the election, it is very necessary for everyone to get out to the polls on Election Day and let their voice be heard. Even if that’s not you yet, learning about it now can be helpful in the future and can help to understand what’s going on in your community.