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I Voted. Now What?

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Nov. 7 2018, Updated 10:18 p.m. ET

You stood in line for hours, Googled who was on your ballot, cast your vote, posted a selfie – or Boomerang if you were really excited – on social media, refreshed your timeline every half hour to check in on incoming results or watched live. But now what do you do?

Yesterday’s midterm election produced over 110 million voters, young adult voters (aged 18-29) making up 13 percent of the overall electorate. Historically, millennial voters are the least likely demographic to vote, but we went above and beyond to prove the stats wrong. In early voting alone, young adult voting surged 188 percent in comparison to the 2014 midterm elections. Yesterday produced the largest number of youth voter turnout for a midterm in 25 years.

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The Executive Tea founder, Kayla Passacreta echoed this call for continued work post-election day as she explained the importance of midterms as a whole. “Midterm elections are extremely important because it’s essentially a follow up to your vote from the general election. Think about it, if you voted for Obama in ‘08 but didn’t show up to vote in 2010, you didn’t do your part to make sure he had a Democratic majority to actually achieve the campaign and legislative promises he made. It goes hand in hand.” This idea that midterms are the backbone of the presidential elections is often lost on youth voters. For this reason, Passacreta knows the most important thing is educating those who don’t know the facts and relevance of politics.

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“We can encourage millennials to vote and be politically active by educating them! I don’t think criticizing people for not voting is the best way to motivate others to be politically informed. Millennial need to understand that choices politicians make can impact our future, the resources we have, and the everyday rights we cherish. It’s also important for people to realize that their vote and voice DOES make a difference.”

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“We can encourage millennials to vote and be politically active by educating them! I don’t think criticizing people for not voting is the best way to motivate others to be politically informed. Millennial need to understand that choices politicians make can impact our future, the resources we have, and the everyday rights we cherish. It’s also important for people to realize that their vote and voice DOES make a difference.”

The Executive Tea, a Shaderoom-style blog and social media platform for all things politics, pledges to hold up its end of the political education bargain by continuing to promote honest and timely news for young people of color. Co-founder, Alexis Alex sees this as a cornerstone for their website. “We need political platforms dedicated to educating young people of color about current political events and cultural happenings to open up this dialogue in our community. Most politicians would like it if millennials and young people of color stayed disinterested in politics, so we created the Executive Tea in hopes of empowering more millennials and people of color to get engaged in politics, especially at this critical time in our country.”

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This sense of political empowerment is often lost on millennials and women of color. One of the main assumptions – and reasons people of color choose not to vote – is the belief that regardless of their vote, politicians will let voters down after taking office. Baker recently penned an essay for Elle on why this excuse shouldn’t keep us from the polls, and her comments to Bombshell mirror the same mentality of understanding, but not justification.

“People of color and especially black people are right to feel let down because we have been. There’s no getting around that. Our public officials have failed us on many occasions. But not voting isn’t rebellion. We don’t “stick it to the man” when we don’t vote. We just make their jobs easier. When voter turnout is low republicans win – it’s a proven fact. So we have to keep showing up and even more than that we have to let them know throughout the year that we’re watching what they do.”

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For Alex, voting and political participation were never optional. “…Our ancestors risked their lives fighting for the right for us to vote now, and taking that for granted would be ignorant. I encourage people to always vote in spite of their distrust in the system because this is the defeated mindset the government wants us to have. Even if you are not excited about the candidates, it is still important to vote to protect your interests from oppressive politicians. If you look into the statistics of some of the most important elections, they were decided by a small margin of votes, meaning a few people have the power to make a candidate win.”

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So you voted. Congrats. Now, what are you going to do? What are the actionable steps you can take to ensure politicians – whether you voted for them or not – are upholding the community you want to be a part of?

Baker urges us that, “Now the real work begins! Now you find a local non-profit or advocacy group and figure out how to support their work. Now you donate to the campaign of a candidate you believe in and volunteer your time to educate other people about them. Now you save the number of your elected officials office and call them weekly to voice your concerns. We have to make staying engaged normal, not popular. Now we roll our sleeves up and get going!”

For more on our midterm mavens, check out Brea Baker (@freckled.ivy), Kayla Passacreta (@far_fromusual), and Alexis Alex (@alexis_briaa) on social media. You can keep up with all things politics at www.theexecutivetea.com. And don’t miss Baker’s footprints all over The Gathering for Justice, Women’s March Youth Empower, and Black Women Animate.

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