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Voters cast their ballots at the polls in Bennington during the primary election in August.

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America is at a cultural and political tipping point as we head into next Tuesday’s midterm elections.

About a third of the Senate, all 435-members of the House of Representatives, and governors’ offices in 36 of the 50 states are up for grabs. And the outcome of those races will determine the direction our country takes for at least the next two years.

Democrats have held both chambers of Congress and the presidency for the last two years, but that could easily change. Republicans are favored to win the House, bolstered by frustration over the economy and advantages in the redistricting process that takes place every 10 years. But Democrats are working to hold their ground, campaigning on maintaining access to abortion and other issues.

The outlook is murkier in the Senate, where Republicans are trying to take back control. Several races in key battleground states are tight, leading Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell to say the chances of his party winning a majority are just 50-50, according to an Associated Press report. Still, history gives Republicans reason for optimism. In the modern era, the party that’s held the White House has lost congressional seats in virtually every first-term president’s midterm election.

If Republicans win the House, the GOP caucus will elect a new speaker and take power on Jan. 3, 2023. They will run every committee and decide what bills come to the House floor. It also would be a victory for former President Donald Trump, who has fought Democrat-led efforts to hold him accountable for the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol insurrection. The vast majority of Republicans who are expected to return to Washington next year, along with most of those hoping to win a first term, are loyal to Trump and have followed his example in their policies and positions.

Here in Vermont, we’re mostly sheltered from the partisan rancor so prevalent in Washington, D.C. Still, there are some notable items on the Green Mountain ballot.

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For starters, there’s Proposition 2, a constitutional amendment clarifying that slavery and indentured servitude are prohibited in the state, and Proposition 5 (or Article 22), which would amend the state Constitution “to ensure that every Vermonter is afforded personal reproductive liberty,” as stated in the opening sentence of the proposal.

Also on the ballot, Vermont will have a new U.S. senator for the first time in nearly two decades as Patrick Leahy retires, and a new congressional representative as Peter Welch vacates that seat to run for Leahy’s. Becca Balint pf Brattleboro is heavily favored to win the U.S. House race, which would give Vermont its very first woman and openly gay member of Congress. Then again, Liam Madden of Rockingham is putting up quite a challenge.

Then there’s the governor’s race, with incumbent Phil Scott facing a challenge from four other candidates, including Brattleboro’s own Brenda Siegel. And last but not least there is lieutenant governor, attorney general and a multitude of legislative candidates on the ballot. We don’t expect any upsets in the legislative races, but one never knows. If the last several years has taught us anything, it’s that we should not take our voting rights and obligations for granted.

Over the past several weeks, the Banner has been publishing stories about the upcoming races, as well as responses from the candidates to important questions about housing, drug addiction, crime, economic development and more. And we’ve published a plethora of letters and op-eds from all viewpoints about these issues and the candidates.

We urge people to read and learn all they can about the issues and the candidates, make your choice an informed one, and get out and vote.

If you haven’t mailed your ballot yet, you can still drop it off at designated ballot boxes outside your town offices, or go directly to the polls on Tuesday. For more information, call your Town Clerk’s Office or visit the Vermont Secretary of State website at sos.vermont.gov.


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