Why Is It Important to Encourage Voting in the 2018 Mid-Term Elections

Why Is It Important to Encourage Voting in the 2018 Mid-Term Elections

 (And What Does that Have to Do with School Libraries)?

October 9 - Deadline to register to vote (new voter) or update your registration (recently moved and need to change your address and polling place). Application Link.

October 30 – Deadline to apply for an absentee ballot for those unable to appear in person at their polling place (college students not living at home, disabled/medical, vacationing or traveling for business, etc.)

NOVEMBER 6 - Election Day

Pennsylvania Elections - 25 out of 50 Senate seats are up to re-election/election; all 203 seats in the PA House, and a gubernatorial race to re-elect Gov. Tom Wolf or vote in a new governor. Although, as predicted by the pollsters, it is unlikely that Democrats will take back the majority in either the chamber: PA House currently 121 Rep - 82 Dem; PA Senate currently 34 Rep – 16 Dem.

Of import is the redistricting of Pennsylvania's congressional districts that occurred in early 2018, due to a League of Women Voters lawsuit that resulted in a long, contentious battle between Republicans and Democrats in PA (read details).  As a consequence, some voters may be voting in a different district than the last election. (However, this shouldn't change your polling place.) This redistricting may facilitate a change in party leadership especially in the US Congress.

US Congressional Elections - PA has been designated an important “swing state” in this year’s US Congressional elections by the Wall Street Journal (Epstein). All 18 US House of Representatives seats representing PA are up for re-election/election, as well as one US Senate seat (Casey vs. Barletta). Heading into the election, the Republican Party holds a majority in both chambers: Senate, 51 Rep – 47 Dem; House, 236 Rep – 193 Dem. However, all 435 U.S. House seats and 33 U.S. Senate seats are being voted on in the 2018 midterms.

What Does This Mean for Libraries

In Pennsylvania, through the bi-partisan leadership of Rep. Longietti (D-part of Mercer County) and Rep. Tom Murt (R-parts of Philadelphia and Montgomery counties), we have been pushing to pass a bill that would ensure a certified school librarian in every public school. Philosophically, Republicans oppose any unfunded mandate such as this bill. Despite this, PSLA and library advocates were able to get 40 sponsors including 31 Democrats and 8 Republicans in the current legislative session which ends this November. A similar bill will be introduced in the new two-year legislative session in January-February, hopefully in both the House and Senate. That will begin the process to again get sponsors on the bills. Even now, it is important that you express your concerns for this legislation to whomever you plan to vote for.

In Washington DC, our Congress will determine funding for libraries through IMLS and LSTA, including the Innovative Approaches to Literacy program. Did you know that most of the funding for POWER Library and ACCESS PA comes to the state through LSTA federal dollars? Access to telecommunications through the e-rate program and issues such as Net Neutrality will impact the way school librarians can deliver digital resources to students and staff. It is critical that voters examine potential elected officials’ voting records and weigh which candidates can best represent education and library interests.


What librarians can do now is what we have always done best—disseminate information to our patrons about how to register to vote and encourage voters to learn about candidates and the issues in a non-partisan, neutral fashion. Encourage voters to choose, but provide quality valid resources to help them make those decisions.


Epstein, Reid J. “Four States Could Swing House.” Wall Street Journal, 10 Sept. 2018.

Lai, Jonathan, and Liz Navratil. “Pennsylvania, Gerrymandered: A Guide to Pa.’s Congressional Map Redistricting Fight.” Philly.com, 24 Sept. 2018.

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