Midterms are just around the corner in the US, and almost any US citizen over 18 is able to cast their vote! Those from 16-17 may not vote yet, but they can still register (depending on state laws)! These elections do not get close to the same amount of coverage received by Presidential elections. Despite this lack of coverage, these elections are just as important if not more. The entire House of Representatives is up for re-election, as well as 1/3 of senators and 36 governors, alongside state and local officials.
Why should I care about midterms?
Americans usually fall under the impression that the President is fully in charge of America, but that is objectively false. As laid out in the constitution, the president is one of 3 branches, all with equal power. This separation of powers is exactly why congressional elections are just as important as Presidential ones. Due to the filibuster (a system of congressional voting where senators who are in a minority may block legislation by requiring 60 votes instead of the usual 51) and congressional lawmaking powers, the party in control of the House and Senate can likely pass or stop most legislation to their liking, something people do not realize. Arguably, congress has an even bigger impact on American day-to-day life than the President themself.
Surely my vote can’t matter, right?
That is objectively false. While one vote in a country of 360 million may not seem like it makes a difference, it absolutely does. For instance, Florida’s 2018 gubernatorial race was won by Republican Ron DeSantis who beat Democratic Nominee Andrew Gillum by a mere 33,000 votes. Another example of this is Joe Biden beating Donald Trump in Wisconsin by around 20,000 votes, or 0.63% of votes. These votes determined the allocation of 10 Electoral Votes. These races have lasting statewide and nationwide impacts, and the small number of votes could have completely flipped a State’s government, or even the federal government.
How close are the midterms this year?
Pretty close. As a matter of fact, Morning Consult states that on a national average, Congressional Democrats are leading elections by 5% of voters polled, and an estimated 7% of voters polled are undecided, meaning the Democratic lead could flip very easily, making this a very close election nationwide.
What issues are on the ballot this year?
The same Morning Consult poll shows that the top issues among all American voters in the sample they polled are (in no particular order): The Economy, Abortion, Education, Guns, Immigration, Covid, and foreign policy, specifically concerning the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Should I register as a Republican/Democrat or as an independent?
Heavily opinionated individuals should heavily consider registering with the party they tend to agree with more (Republican or Democrat). These registrations are non-binding, meaning you can register as a Republican and vote for a democrat and vice versa. The benefit of registering under a party is largely the ability to vote in primaries. Being able to vote in primaries means you are able to vote to decide who your party’s nominee is for the general elections. This applies to all elections, including President, governor, senator, representative, and others. For someone who does not have very strong views, or who has a political opinion they prefer keeping fully hidden, especially from family, should consider registering as an independent. While registering as an independent does remove stigma, it also lowers the extent of your political participation by not allowing you to vote in primaries.
Should I register to vote if I’m not old enough to vote this year?
Yes. Procrastination is every teen’s #1 enemy, and when you are able to do this now, why put it off for next year or after? Registering now allows you to become more involved in the party of your choice, as well as make your life loads easier later on. Future you will greatly thank you, when they can go to the polls to vote with little concern over registration.
What is the voter registration deadline?
The deadline to register to vote in this year’s midterm elections varies by state, and can be found on this page by vote.org.
Where can I register to vote in my state?
Registration varies by state, but is either online, in person, and/or by mail. This link by vote.gov covers where to register in each state.
Remember, if you are 18, your vote counts tremendously, so make sure you go out and vote and encourage all of those around you to do the same. Participation is the best way to ensure our democracy remains healthy! And even if you are not 18, future you will thank you for registering in advance. You can still be politically active, so don’t forget to encourage your family and friends to vote! The best way to make this country the best possible is to make your voice heard, and a ballot is the place to do that!
Luiz Gandelman is an Aleph from Miami, Florida and is the 99th Grand Aleph Mazkir.
All views expressed on content written for The Shofar represent the opinions and thoughts of the individual authors. The author biography represents the author at the time in which they were in BBYO.
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