With Election Day right around the corner, there are numerous important issues that Binghamton University students should keep in mind when heading to the polls.
Now more than ever, it’s necessary that students do their research and vote in the upcoming midterm elections. Everyone is affected by one issue or another — even those who have the luxury of thinking that they are disconnected from political issues must reckon with things like climate change.
As an Editorial Board, we’ve decided there are a few key issues that students and young voters should strongly consider on Nov. 6.
Many student groups are clearly concerned with this, as there have been several events with expert speakers at the University addressing climate change and environmental protection. A recent report concluded that the earth will be in crisis by 2030 if we continue on our destructive path. Students should consider candidates’ positions on how best to stem and repair the damage, and avoid those who call it a hoax.
The recent Pittsburgh synagogue shooting and movements like March For Our Lives have brought gun violence to the forefront. Locally, Broome County is home to the deadliest shooting in New York’s history: 13 people were killed at the American Civic Association on Front Street in 2009. Especially for those voting in Broome County, it is important to consider these tragedies.
The Trump administration has worked to roll back Obama-era protections for the LGBTQ community, creating a dangerous environment. LGBTQ rights are fundamental human rights. Although BU has the Q Center, resources in the United States are still scarce.
Criminal Justice Reform
The Broome County Jail is an example of the rampant mistreatment of inmates in the United States. Though an estimated 75 percent of the people there have not been convicted of a crime, over 500 of the 600 beds in the jail are filled. Many inmates are refused basic medical care, such as access to inhalers and insulin. There have been six deaths in the last four years, and though we don’t know the exact causes, we know they may have been caused by a lack of medical attention. There also issues besides safety within the jail, including privacy complaints from female inmates, who say they don’t have privacy while using toilets, which are within 10 feet of where they eat. Broome County voters should vote for candidates advocating for prison reform.
Immigration has been a hot topic recently, with talk of a caravan of immigrants, repealing the 14th Amendment and deploying troops to the border. National policies like separating families and the revocation of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status have also affected the national dialogue on immigration. It’s important to remember the United States is a nation of immigrants, and that Binghamton is home to people of many different races and faiths. Since it used to be a factory hub, Binghamton attracted many immigrants and has a long history of welcoming diverse groups of newcomers. Additionally, BU has many first-generation immigrants and DACA students. It’s crucial students keep these facts in mind as they consider who to vote for.
Education policies directly affect us as college students attending a public university. Many campuses have declared themselves sanctuary campuses, including BU. National teacher walkouts have been an ongoing issue as well. Finally, New York’s postsecondary education landscape drastically changed with the Excelsior Scholarship, which some candidates hope to change and add to, and others want to repeal it altogether.
The Trump administration has worked to repeal sections of the Affordable Care Act. With health care so up in the air, it can be hard for people to understand it. Many health care plans exclude mental and reproductive health. Voters should consider whether or not a candidate supports single-payer health care and weigh the merits of each position.
Broome County’s economy is different from New York City’s. Though New York state ranks near the middle in job creation, downstate New York is highly ranked while upstate ranks low. This is partly because the jobs available in upstate New York often include blue-collar work. Additionally, the distribution of tax dollars is unequal; taxes here are too expensive for many, and different parts of the state are constantly fighting for funding. The Broome County economy is mostly energized by BU, which is dangerous — as times change, some industries and institutions become obsolete, and if that were to happen to the University, the whole economy could crash.
There is no excuse to not vote in the midterms. It’s easy to get educated about the issues and the candidates — Pipe Dream’s election issue, for example, outlines many candidates’ platforms. The ballot this year is more diverse than ever, and more voices are being heard. The midterm elections are important in affecting change on local and state levels, and voting is crucial to incite the change that is so necessary.