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There Were Actually Some Bright Spots From This Hellish Election Day

One highlight of Election Day included Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ayanna Pressley, Ilhan Omar, and Rashida Tlaib being reelected.

Election Day is finally over and it was a mess. 

On Tuesday, news about voter suppression and malfunctioning machines spread dwindling a bit of hope that the Joe Biden-Kamala Harris ticket would win the election. To make matters a bit more precarious, Donald Trump tweeted quite a bit last night about Democrats attempting to steal the election as results rolled in turning maps of the U.S. red.

But despite the hiccups that voters may have run into at the polls, more than 100 million Americans voted early due to the pandemic and voter turnout was at a record high, a respite that provides a glimmer of positivity to what seems to be the season finale of 2020.

Election Day is more about what happens on the Presidential stage though. There are still a number of wins from Election Day 2020 that show signs of future progress towards inclusion in state and local government. While we wait for the outcome of the 2020 Presidental election, find respite in some of the progressive moments that happened as a result of Americans mobilizing to cast their votes.

New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota Voted To Legalize Recreational Marijuana

The legalization of recreational marijuana was passed in New Jersey, Arizona, Montana, and South Dakota. A BuzzFeed report notes in Arizona, the new measure will allow people with past marijuana convictions to “petition the courts for expungements through restorative justice provisions.” Over in D.C., residents voted in favor of decriminalizing the use of psychedelic substances. With New Jersey’s decision, we’re hoping that New York follows suit. “We did it New Jersey!” New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy tweeted excitedly. He also wrote, “Public Question #1 to legalize adult-use marijuana passed overwhelmingly tonight, a huge step forward for racial and social justice and our economy.”

"The Squad" Gets Reelected

Representatives Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ilhan Omar of Iowa, Rashida Tlaib of Minnesota and Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts affectionately known as “The Squad” have won re-election. Their win is a highlight for the Democratic party as the four women have become symbols of change as they’ve served in the House. Late yesterday evening Ocasio-Cortez shared in a tweet that fighting for working-class families has been “the greatest honor, privilege and responsibility of her life.”

Cori Bush Becomes Missouri’s First Black Congresswoman

Democrat Cori Bush, an activist, pastor, and registered nurse made history yesterday evening when she won her bid for the U.S. Representative seat in Missouri. She is now the first Black woman the state has ever sent to Congress. She garnered nearly 85% of the vote or more than 80,000 votes according to reports from Newsweek. “To the Black women, the Black girls, the nurses, the essential workers, the single mothers: This is our moment,” Bush declared during a speech after she was declared the winning candidate.

Kansas’ Stephanie Byers Becomes First Trans Person of Color Elected to State Legislature

Stephanie Byers, a former teacher, and band director was one of 574 LGBTQ candidates to land on the ballot this year. Last night her win made her Kansas’ first trans state legislator. Annise Parker of the LGBTQ Victory Fund said the following on Byers’ victory, “Stephanie’s victory is a powerful reminder that most voters reject the politics of bigotry and will elect trans people who have a positive vision for their communities.” Byers, a Democrat is also a proud member of the Chickasaw Nation.

Formerly Incarcerated Citizens Have Had Their Voting Rights Restored in California

California voted in support of Proposition 17, granting felons on parole the right to vote. This means that the state Constitution will affect approximately 50,000 people. According to KTLA, supporters believe the parolees “have paid their debt to society.” Taina Vargas-Edmond, chair of the Yes On Prop. 17 campaign said, “This is a victory for democracy and justice.” After 9.2 million votes were counted, 61% percent of Californians were in support of Proposition 17.

Delaware’s Sarah Mcbride Becomes First Trans State Senator in America

Delaware activist Sarah Mcbride won Tuesday’s election making her the first person to identify as trans to be elected to serve as a state senator. According to CNN, Mcbride, a Democrat won with nearly 73% of the vote against Republican candidate Steve Washington. In a tweet on Tuesday, she wrote, “I hope tonight shows an LGBTQ kid that our democracy is big enough for them, too.” Her win also declares her as Delaware’s first out LGBTQ person elected to Delaware’s state legislature. 

New Mexico Is The First State to Elect All Women of Color to The House

New Mexico has become the first state to elect solely women of color to its House. Democrat Deb Haaland, a Native American woman won her reelection bid and Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez won the open seat for the state’s 3rd Congressional District. After winning Haaland tweeted the following: “Tonight the people of New Mexico have chosen hope over fear, love over hate, community over division, and I am so honored that New Mexican’s have chosen me to serve in our nation’s 117th Congress.” Additionally, Republican Yvette Herrell, a member of the Cherokee Nation, beat incumbent Xochitl Torres Small (D). 

Jabari Brisport Becomes The First Black, Queer Person Elected To New York State Legislature

Jabari Brisport joins the ranks of the numerous LGBTQ+ candidates to win last night. He’ll be representing New York’s 25th District as the first LGBTQ+ person of color elected to the New York State Legislature. The former math and science teacher ran on a platform that included plans to defund the police, end solitary confinement, and many other progressive ideals, per Them

Annise Parker, president and CEO of the Victory Fund shared that Brisport’s election means “there is a legislator in Albany who can turn protests into policy.”

Ritchie Torres & Mondaire Jones Become First Openly Gay Black Men Elected to Congress

Last night, two Democratic candidates in races for House seats, Ritchie Torres and Mondaire Jones became the first-ever openly gay Black men elected to Congress. Both Torres and Jones will represent the state of New York. 

Torres who was the first openly gay elected official on New York City’s Council won his primary which he ran to replace Rep. Jose Serrano who was retiring. This race consisted of 13 other candidates. In a previous feature with The New York Times, Mondaire Jones said, “Growing up poor, Black, and gay, I never imagined someone like me could run for Congress, let alone win.” On Tuesday he tweeted, “My grandmother used to clean homes in Congers. When daycare was too expensive, she took me with her. Now I get to run to represent the same people whose homes I watched my grandmother clean growing up. My story, quintessentially, is that of the American Dream.”

Georgia’s Sam Park, First Openly Gay Candidate In State Wins Reelection

On Tuesday, Rep. Sam Park won his reelection bid four years after he flipped his district making him the first openly gay man elected to Georgia’s legislature. He was elected to Georgia’s House of Representatives the same night Donald Trump won the presidency. Park said the following in a previous feature with Them, “By deciding to elect an openly gay man the very same year in which [the legislature] passed religious liberty legislation in the state of Georgia, I think voters sent the powerful message that discrimination was not something Georgians were interested in.” This also follows his 2018 reelection victory. 

At the moment, Park’s win is yet another smidgen of hope for the red-state. He’s one of two Asian-American state legislators in the nation. It's also worth noting here that last night Kim Jackson won her election in Georgia, making her the first openly LGBTQ+ state senator.