By 5 a.m. on the cold morning of Election Day, Carolyn E. Budoo was at Washington Metropolitan High School setting up the polling site. Workers picked up the machines the day before midterm elections, and security watched them overnight.
Budoo has been volunteering at polls since the age of 22. Now a precinct captain at the Ward 1 precinct, Budoo says she believes in the process of pushing D.C. residents to come out and vote in this year’s midterm elections.
By 6:30 p.m., only 188 voters had visited her site. Acquisition consultant Kenan Dunson, the 118thvoter at the precinct, was one of 125,961 of 453,014 registered voters in Washington who turned out for midterm elections. The turnout was 28 percent, down from 37 percent for the primary election, which had 137,586 of 370,416 registered voters.
“It is important for everyone to vote so that your individual [choices] can be pulled in with the masses,” Dunson said. “I vote whenever there is an opportunity. It is important to get involved in the lowest levels.”
In the Southeast, Ralph Long III, representative for District 67 in the Georgia House of Representatives, says controversy surrounding the Tea Party’s racially charged activities rubbed people the wrong way and brought out more voters overall.
“I know it motivated black people in Atlanta,” Long said. “I can say my constituents have shown up in high numbers. If anything, it had a backward effect. People weren’t going to stand for hatred and some of the things that have been said. People are saddened by the way he’s been treated,” he added, referring to President Obama.
The Atlanta-born Long also understands why some voters have not been rushing to the polls. He said that minimal understanding is to blame, not a motivation deficiency.
Long said that President Obama needed to explain his policies in more depth. “He hasn’t been able to educate the people about the positive effects of his work, and that may cost him votes.”
John Goudeaux, Academic Chief Advisor at Howard Middle School of Mathematics and Sciences, had similar views. Goudeaux also has advice for candidates to encourage young voters to cast ballots not just for presidential elections, but in local ones, as well.
“We have to educate our children [about voting],” he said. “It is not only their right, but their responsibility.”
Despite all the worry about young voters not showing up to the polls, first-time voter Stephanie Miller, freshman biology major at Howard University, made sure she came out to cast her vote.
“Voting is important, because it can bring changes to the economy.”