With the midterm elections here, you might be asking yourself, “Why vote?” Student voters have the power to make a difference, but it’s up to them to show up to the polls.
Unfortunately, many young citizens skip out on this important right simply because of a few minor challenges, such as going to school in a different state or just misunderstanding the importance of a non-presidential election.
Why should I vote in the midterm elections?
The midterm elections are held every four years, about halfway through a president’s 4-year term. This is when every seat within the United States House of Representatives and (this year) 35 of the seats in the United States Senate are up for grabs. Additionationally, 36 states will elect their governor, and everyone will have a say in their local elections.
Unfortunately, the midterm elections have a lower voter turnout than the presidential elections. Keep in mind, you might not be voting in a new president, but many of the issues you care deeply about are at stake here — such as healthcare, student loan policies, and so much more. Here’s a great video that lays it all out.
How do I register?
If you’re not sure whether or not you’ve registered, you can check your status here, or simply check where your polling place is.
Not registered? While it’s too late to register for this election, you can still make an effort to do so before any important elections in the future. Don’t forget!
Filling out a voter registration form is a simple step, and will just require you to provide your basic information and your political party. If you’re not comfortable declaring a party, don’t sweat it! You can opt to register as an independent instead.
Once you’ve filled out the form, you can either mail it or hand deliver it to your County Commissioner of Registration or Superintendent of Elections.
How do I vote?
The most important part of voting is doing your research. Take a look at where each candidate stands on issues that matter to you, and make sure to check your sources! A heated Facebook status probably isn’t the best place to gather your information, for instance.
Here are a few ideas:
- Bounce ideas back and forth with a few people who you not only trust, but also tend to share the same values with.
- Take a look at the press (trusted sources, only!) revolved around the candidates and issues.
- Watch the debates. This is especially helpful if you’re electing a new governor or mayor.
- Look up the different views candidates have on the policies that matter to you.
Once you’re confident in your research, get ready to head to the polls! You can find your polling place here. Many first time voters are required to bring a photo ID, so keep that on hand just in case. This can include your driver’s license, passport, or student ID. It’s also useful to know your district number when you head over to vote, so you can skip the info desk and head straight to your polling station.
What if I go to school out-of-state?
Not everyone can make it to the polls on Election Day, but that doesn’t mean they don’t get the right to vote! An absentee ballot allows you to cast your vote by mail if you’re unavailable on Election Day. Out-of-state students, there’s no excuse now! Learn more about absentee ballots here.
Do you have any more questions about the voting process? Check out campusvoteproject.org for a state-by-state guide on what you need to know for the election.