Things That Matter

Don’t Vote, Everything is Fine

Maine, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, and Virginia are voting today for their primary election candidates. Governors, City Councilors, Members of Congress, and seats up and down the ballot are all up for grabs. Who will you vote for? Click here to find your voting location or voter registration information. 

Or will you be a part of the 50% of people age 18-29 who sat out the election in the 2016 November Presidential election? You could be telling yourself, “what does it matter, my vote doesn’t make a difference.” The usual response to this age old excuse is, “yes, your vote does make a difference,” but researchers decided to finally back that up with real data. According to CivicYouth.org,

“Parties and other political groups often overlook the votes and energy of young people even where youth can have a decisive influence on the outcome of the race. CIRCLE is providing data-driven insights about the states and congressional districts where youth are poised to have a disproportionately high electoral impact in 2018.”

They found that youth are poised to be the make it or break it factor for campaigns from states all over the country including Maine and North Dakota, who head to the voting booths today. But let’s take a look at past elections. Where did the youth vote actually matter?

In these states they estimated that the youth vote in 2012 were responsible for at least 80 electoral votes which handed the presidential election to Obama.

There are also races all over the country that always win or lose by just a handful of people. Currently in Orange County, California, two Democrats are battling it out for second place with only 129 votes separating them. In San Francisco, they still don’t know who won their Mayoral race.

But hey, at the end of the day, no one can make you care or get you motivated to vote other than yourself. The System would love to keep everything the same – OR – you can vote and show candidates from all parties that you mean business and if you don’t like the job they are doing, you WILL vote them out. Up to you.

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El Salvador’s Election Leads To Landslide Win For The President’s New Political Party

Things That Matter

El Salvador’s Election Leads To Landslide Win For The President’s New Political Party

El Salvador has held its midterm elections two years into the term of President Nayib Bukele and the president has been handed a major victory. Although Bukele’s name was not on the ballot, Nuevas Ideas candidates relied on their connection to the conservative president, and his image was plastered on campaign posters around the country.

The strong showing for Nuevas Ideas came despite allegations of voting fraud from Bukele and other party members. While, international commmentators point out that with his new supermajority, there are very few checks on Bukele’s power.

President Bukele’s Nuevas Ideas party wins a supermajority during midterm elections.

In what many are calling a first test for President Bukele’s Nuevas Ideas political party, the midterm elections delivered a landslide victory to the president and his party. With more than half the votes counted, the president’s party won a supermajority of at least 61 out of 84 seats in the country’s Legislative Assembly.

The midterm elections have completely upended the traditional political system that has existed in the country since the 1994 peace agreement. Not once has a single party had such a major victory. These elections also represent the collapse of the two-party system that has governed El Salvador for more than 25 years.

With the added votes of the GANA party, a small party that has pledged loyalty to the president, supporters of Bukele will control over 70% of the legislature, effectively removing all limits on the 39-year-old president’s ability to implement his agenda.

The election results remove any checks the authoritative president once faced.

Bukele will become the country’s most powerful leader in decades following these results, which is causing alarm among administration officials in Washington. Joe Biden’s administration has already voiced “worries” over Bukele’s tactics. These have included disobeying supreme court rulings and sending troops into the national assembly to coerce legislators into approving his spending plans.

Even before official results were in, the 39-year-old president, an ally of former US president Donald Trump, tweeted “VICTORY” over images of fireworks.

Bukele’s harsh crackdown on gang violence and his adept social media campaigns against corruption and traditional politics have made him popular with Salvadorans who are tired of endemic violence in one of the world’s most crime-ridden countries.

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Puerto Rico’s Gubernatorial Race Is Neck-And-Neck With Many Ballots Still Uncounted

Fierce

Puerto Rico’s Gubernatorial Race Is Neck-And-Neck With Many Ballots Still Uncounted

More than one year after former Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rosselló was ousted after a Telegram scandal, the people of the Caribbean archipelago have voted for a new leader – but ballots in the crowded election are still being counted.

Puerto Rico’s gubernatorial race looks similar to the U.S. presidential election: two leading male candidates neck-and-neck.

Unlike President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden, however, the leading Puerto Rican contenders, Pedro Pierluisi and Carlos Delgado Altieri, are both Democrats. What drastically separates the two candidates are their local political parties: Pierluisi is the nominee of the New Progressive Party (PNP), which advocates for statehood, and Delgado Altieri is the pick of the Popular Democratic Party (PPD), which wants to continue as a commonwealth of the United States with limited self-government.

With 95% of polling stations reporting, the latest numbers put Pierluisi, at 32.4%, ahead of Delgado Altieri, who has 31.4% of the votes.

While ballots are still being counted, Pierluisi, an attorney and lobbyist, declared himself a winner on Tuesday night during a victory party.

Delgado Altieri, the former mayor of the northwestern municipality of Isabela and current president of the PPD, called the declaration “irresponsible” and noted that all the votes need to be tallied. If their difference reaches less than half a percentage point, there would be an automatic recount, Bloomberg reports.

Overall, Puerto Rican candidates faced a dwindling voter base. According to U.S. News & World Report, eligible voters dropped from 2.87 million in 2016 to 2.36 million in 2020, largely due to emigration following multiple economic and climate crises. Even more, with a voter turnout of 51.32%, compared to 55% in 2016, voter participation is also down, likely due to a distrust in Puerto Rican government amid back-to-back political scandals. 

Regardless of which candidate wins, the election is a historic one.

It’s the first time in recent history that either of Puerto Rico’s two main parties failed to secure more than 40% of the overall vote. Puerto Ricans, largely young voters who grew up amid a financial crisis that has since been compounded by the disastrous Hurricane María as well as recent earthquakes, have found themselves disillusioned by both the PNP and PPD parties and have voted in significant numbers for pro-independence and new party candidates. Alexandra Lugaro of the Citizens’ Victory Movement and Juan Dalmau of the Puerto Rico Independence Party have received 15% and 14% of the vote, respectively. It’s the first time since the 1950s that pro-independence parties have reached double-digit support.

Puerto Rico-based journalist and political analyst Jonathan Lebron-Ayala told NPR that rebuilding a decimated Puerto Rico has motivated many young islanders to think outside of the archipelago’s two-party system. “We’re going to see a major change not in this election but maybe into 2024 or 2028 because the numbers in the general demographics with these two old parties are very, very weak,” Lebron-Ayala said. 

In addition to the general election on Tuesday, Puerto Rican voters were also presented with a nonbinding referendum that asked, “Should Puerto Rico be admitted immediately into the union as a state?”

While more than 52% said yes, it must be noted that many Puerto Ricans, understanding that the referendum holds no weight, skip the question altogether. U.S. Congress would have to approve of any changes to Puerto Rico’s political status.

As a U.S. territory, Puerto Rico cannot vote in the presidential election and does not have voting representation in the U.S. Congress.

However, Jenniffer González, Puerto Rico’s resident commissioner, which is a non-voting congressional representative, won a second term on Tuesday night. The pro-Trump, pro-statehood González is a long-time supporter of Pierluisi. 

Pierluisi, who formerly held the resident commissioner seat, briefly served as governor following Rosselló’s resignation last year. Rosselló, who is a member of the same party as Pierluisi, named the 2020 contender as the next governor without him being confirmed by both the House and the Senate as secretary of state. Pierluisi took office on August 2, 2019, but was removed days later on August 7 after the Puerto Rico Supreme Court ruled that Pierluisi was sworn in on unconstitutional grounds. 

The unelected Wanda Vázquez Garced, a former secretary of justice who is also a member of the same PPD party, has served as governor since. In August, Vázquez lost the pro-statehood nomination to Pierluisi. 

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