As the world waits for the outcome of the U.S. presidential race, we found some good news to focus on down the ballot. From record-high voter turnout to a historic number of Native Americans winning seats in the 117th Congress, here’s a look at some of the results from Tuesday’s nationwide elections.
This election saw the highest voter turnout in over a century
The U.S. Elections Project, which tracks voter turnout, has found that more than 160 million Americans voted.
Representing nearly 70% of the potentially eligible voting population, this marks the largest election participation since 1900.
Huge numbers of young people registered and cast their votes
More than 15 million Americans have turned 18 since the last presidential election, and they’ve been registering to vote in droves. In Idaho, Minnesota, Georgia, and Vermont, registrations of young people exceeded 2016 numbers by over a third.
The Center for Information Research & Civic Learning and Engagement has been tracking early and absentee voting by young people aged 18-29: It found that more than seven million youths across the country had already cast their ballots by October 27, including over four million in 14 key states.
Americans too young to vote signed up as poll workers
In the 2018 midterm elections, roughly 58% of poll workers were aged 61 or older, so young citizens stepped up to volunteer to eliminate older people’s risk at being exposed to the COVID-19 virus.
In fact, more than 37,000 young people—some of whom are not old enough to vote—signed up to be poll workers on November 3 through the Poll Hero Project.
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Foreign interference was not the issue it was in the 2016 election
Despite worries of disinformation and hacking attempts coming from Russia, China, and Iran, the Acting Department of Homeland Security Secretary Chad Wolf was able to confidently announce on November 3, “We have no indications that a foreign actor has succeeded in compromising or affecting the actual votes cast in this election.”
According to Elisabeth Braw at Foreign Policy, two things have changed since 2016: “U.S. authorities, election machine manufacturers, and social media companies are now acutely aware of the interference risk and try to limit it.” Furthermore, U.S. Cyber Command “went on offense early with its Defending Forward strategy.”
Native Americans made history
Six Native American candidates won seats in the 117th Congress—three women and three men; three Democrats and three Republicans; two from Oklahoma, two from New Mexico, one from Kansas, and one from Hawaii; including two Cherokee, one Chickasaw, one Ho-Chunk, one Laguna and Jemez Pueblo, and one Native Hawaiian.
We made history y’all!— Rebecca Nagle (@rebeccanagle) November 4, 2020
SIX Native Americans are headed to the 117th Congress.
3 women, 3 men
3 Democrats, 3 Republicans
2 from OK, 2 NM, 1 KS and 1 HI
2 Cherokee, 1 Chickasaw, 1 Ho-Chunk, 1 Laguna and Jemez Pueblo, and 1 Native Hawaiian. https://t.co/twMWkSO7gg
New Mexico became the first state to elect all women of color to their House delegation.
Yvette Herrell and Teresa Leger Fernandez were elected, joining Deb Haaland, who won her reelection.
A nurse and single mother from Springfield made history in Missouri
After her victory, Cori Bush became the first Black woman elected to Congress from the state of Missouri. She tweeted the single word “First,” along with this photo standing in front of a painting of Shirley Chisholm—who became the first African-American woman elected to the US Congress in 1969, representing New York.
The first openly gay Black men will take seats in the US Congress
Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones both won their congressional races in New York, bringing the total number of LGBT members of Congress to nine.
A right-to-repair car law was significantly expanded in Massachusetts
In Massachusetts, a Right to Repair law being called “the most advanced in the world” was voted in. From 2022 onwards, car manufacturers in the Bay State will have to share repair data beyond just dealers—to consumers and repair stores.
This law will allow car owners and local mechanics back into the repair process, instead of restricting repairs to dealerships and their partners.
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Mississippi voted to legalize medical marijuana
Voters in the Magnolia State overwhelmingly approved the citizen-led Initiative 65, making it the 35th state to establish a medical marijuana program.
In fact, citizens in states across the country have voted to ease restrictions for recreational adult use.
Montana, South Dakota, New Jersey, and Arizona voted to legalize recreational pot
Adults in these states will be able to legally buy recreational weed in the future—with tax revenue in Arizona being earmarked for community colleges and “public safety.”
Currently, 11 states have fully legalized adult marijuana use. Oregon also became the first state to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of any drug. Such a law lays the groundwork for people with substance abuse issues to receive the treatment they need instead of time in jail, according to the Washington Post.
Oregon also legalized the therapeutic use of psychedelic mushrooms, with D.C. joining in voted to decriminalize plant psychedelics, including psilocybin and ayahuasca.
Countless families have been torn apart by jail sentences for people who are only doing what drinkers of alcohol do—de-stressing with their drug of choice. Ending the policy that wastes taxpayer dollars to incarcerate otherwise law-abiding citizens is surely good news.
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