The midterm elections, explained

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Citizens will vote for midterm election candidates on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Some Lehigh students are unsure of who exactly is running in this election and why the election matters. Here is a guide to voting in Bethlehem this year. 

What are midterm elections?

While presidential elections occur every four years, U.S. citizens have the chance to vote every two years for every member of the U.S. House, as well as certain members of the U.S. Senate, state officials and local council or school board members. Since the 2018 election is halfway through the presidential term, it is known as a midterm election.

There has been significant emphasis placed on this year’s midterms, and many races across the country expected to be very close. The outcomes of the election will determine party majorities in the Senate and House of Representative in Congress, both of which are currently held by the Republican party.

Who’s on the ballot?

The ballot includes elections to determine both the Senate and House of Representatives in Congress, along with a handful of statewide elections. Local positions specific to Pennsylvania’s 7th District will also be on the ballot.

U.S. Senator

There are two senators from each state, however, each serves six-year terms, so not every senator is up for re-election this year. In Pennsylvania, there is one U.S. Senate seat open.

  • Robert Casey Jr. (D) is the incumbent, having served as senator since 2007. He wants to combat climate change and has fought to expand access to education for low-income families.
  • Louis Barletta (R) is running as the biggest challenger to Casey. He is pro-life and a staunch defender of Israel and the Jewish community.
  • Dale Kerns (Libertarian) and Neal Gale (Green Party) will also be on the ballot. The libertarian and green candidates are sometimes known as third-party candidates and often represent a minority of the vote.

U.S. Representative 

All 435 representatives in the House of Representatives are up for re-election this year, of which 18 represent districts in Pennsylvania. District 7 is brand new and no incumbents from older districts are running again, given the retirement of former Rep. Charlie Dent.

  • Martin Nothstein (R), a gold medal-winning Olympic cyclist, is pro-guns, pro-life, pro-border security, and wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
  • Susan Wild (D), a former solicitor from Allentown, supports more affordable education and universal health care.
  • Tim Silfies (Libertarian) is also on the ballot.

Recent polling has shown that this will be a very tight race.

Pennsylvania Governor 

  • Tom Wolf (D) is the incumbent. He is pro-choice and has pushed for criminal justice reform.
  • Scott Wagner (R) is running against him on the platform to cut taxes and economic regulations.
  • Ken Krawchuk (Libertarian) and Paul Glover (Green Party) are also running for governor.

Where can I vote?

There are three polling places in South Bethlehem: The Litzenberger House, Broughal Middle School and St. John’s Windish Lutheran Church. Polling places are determined by the address individuals use when registering to vote. 

Voting will take place from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

If you are voting in your home state using an absentee-ballot or would simply like more information, resources like Ballot Ready can help you to research candidates.

Extra: What is gerrymandering, and why is it relevant to PA?

Pennsylvania’s congressional map was redrawn in February 2018. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court determined that the previous map, drawn in 2011, was a partisan gerrymander drawn to benefit Republicans.

Gerrymandering occurs when the boundaries of electoral districts are drawn to benefit a certain party. For example, this could mean taking large regions made up of a single party’s voters and consolidating them into the same district so they cannot swing other competitive districts.

Lehigh is located in the new 7th District, which is primarily made up of the old 15th District, but also includes parts of the old 10th and 17th districts.

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2 Comments

  1. You should inform your readers that the PA Supreme Court is made up of 5 Democrats and 2 Republicans not exactly an unbiased judiciary

  2. Robert F Davenport Jr on

    Gerrymandering is practiced by any entity in power. It would seem to be a good tactic for a city that loses population, think Scranton, but picks up population by extending into other areas, think Poconos.

    Note that the old 7th district did not contain much if any of the current 7th district but it is a good example of gerrymandering and a decent representation of Bart Simpson kicking Goofy in the butt.

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