By Will Hall, Message Editor
ALEXANDRIA (LBM) — The 2018 midterm elections will be remembered as historic as much as for what happened as for what did not take place, with voters turning out in record numbers and a divided Congress being elected.
An estimated 113 million voters participated in the midterm elections, the first midterm in history to exceed 100 million voters, amounting to nearly 49 percent of eligible voters in this “off-year” election. This compares to 41 percent participation, almost 82.5 million voters, in 2010, the first midterm of then-President Obama’s eight-year tenure.
Democrats secured control of the House, but not in the blue wave they had expected. They appear to have won about 12 seats more than the 218 needed. But, political observers label a number of these newcomers as “moderates” who supposedly will not support the obstructionist strategy in play by the Democrats the first two years of President Trump’s administration. According to the latest CNN count, Democrats will seat 230 members and Republicans will muster 205 when Congress convenes in 2019.
Republicans strengthened their power in the Senate, adding two more seats, meaning the president likely will succeed to name federal judges in his bid to rebalance the appeals and district courts that lean heavily liberal after Barack Obama’s two terms in the White House. But gone is any notion of Trump’s ability to pass additional middle class tax cuts. Also, further regulatory reform likely will have to come via executive order rather than through legislation.
Meanwhile, a number of key ballot initiatives were overshadowed, including three pro-life measures and one that legalizes the display of the Ten Commandments on state property.
MORAL, SOCIAL BALLOT MEASURES
West Virginians passed Amendment 1, 51.7 percent – 48.3 percent, to clarify that the state constitution does not protect abortion rights or require funding of them.
Alabamans approved a similar amendment, 59.2 percent to 40.8 percent. Amendment 2 declares “nothing this Constitution secures or protects a right to an abortion or requires the funding of an abortion.” They also overwhelmingly voted, 71.8 percent-28.2 percent, to allow the display of the Ten Commandments on state property.
Oregon Measure 106 was the only state pro-life ballot measure that was defeated. By a wide margin, 64.2 percent-35.8 percent, voters rejected this effort to prohibit use of state funds, directly or indirectly, for abortions or health plans and insurance covering abortion.
Both Louisiana and Florida restored the voting rights of felons: Louisianans (74.7 percent-25.3 percent) mandated a five-year waiting period for felons convicted of noncapital offenses after they complete their sentences; but, Floridians (64.5 percent – 35.5 percent) will allow felons, except those convicted of murder or sex offenses, to vote immediately after they complete their sentences, including parole or probation. Additionally, Louisiana voters approved Amendment 2, 64.4 percent-35.6 percent, requiring unanimous juries to convict people charged with felonies. Previously, only a 10-2 jury vote was needed.
Finally, each Louisiana parish decided whether to allow online fantasy sports betting in their respective jurisdictions, with 17 rejecting this form of gambling and 47 allowing it.