For the students among us, the word “midterms” conjures a not-so-exciting period of exams that you would perhaps rather sit out. In the political world, midterms are some of our most important elections that we must not sit out, and they’re coming up quickly.
What are midterm elections?
Midterm elections are the halfway point between presidential elections, and they determine the leadership of our country, aside from the presidency.
Needless to say, though every election is important, midterm elections are pivotal to the national political landscape. In addition to local and municipal elections that occur regularly, every member of the House of Representatives and one-third of our country’s Senators are elected in a midterm year, and this year we can add to that 36 out of the nation’s 50 Governors. With such a significant portion of Congress and state leadership subject to change, the implications are enormous. Not only are we as residents affected by the possible change of our representatives, but in our deeply partisan political system, the Senate and House majorities have incredible power over political climate, legislative priorities, and Supreme Court confirmations, among other things.
The 2022 Midterms are particularly weighty given that states are currently redrawing their districts as part of the 10-year census and redistricting process. For some voters, nothing will change, but many others will find themselves in a new congressional district with unfamiliar names on their ballots. Confused? You’re not alone.
Take me for example: for my entire voting career I’ve been in New Jersey’s 10th congressional district, but the boundaries of NJ districts were changed so that my town is now within the 11th congressional district. I now vote in a highly competitive district with a completely different political climate.
Many voters are in the same boat, and many still are waiting for their districts to be drawn, leaving them in limbo as they get ready for the primaries.
Now add one more layer of importance to this year’s midterm elections: Historically, midterm elections tend to end in favor of the political party that is not in the White House. In other words, in the midterm election after a president begins their term, their political party tends to lose ground in the House and often the Senate. The reason for this statistical trend is hotly debated, and of course there are exceptions, but this backdrop makes for an intense season of campaigning and a heightened interest in voting access.
What do I need to know to vote?
So the midterm elections are important—now what? First come the primary elections, when voters select the candidate to represent their party in the general election. Primaries occur by state during the spring or early summer, and the first this year will be on March 1st in Texas. Because primary dates vary by state, voters need to keep track of the particular dates and deadlines where they are registered. Voters will need to know the deadline to register to vote in the primary—which is different from the deadline to register to vote in the general—as well as the dates for early voting (if a state allows) and the deadlines for mail-in ballots (if a state allows). With all of these moving parts to navigate, you can make sure you’re on top of your state’s dates and deadlines by checking out our helpful roundup of Upcoming Election Dates.
After every state completes their primary elections, we head into the general election. This is the final race between the remaining candidates for every elected seat, and it will occur across the country on Tuesday, November 8, 2022. Though the general election occurs on the same date nationwide, registration deadlines and voting options still vary by state, so be sure to use my.VoteEverywhere, our one-stop-shop for election and voting information, to make your personal voting plan.
What is the Andrew Goodman Network doing about it?
Census Bureau data showed that voters aged 18 to 24 turned out at a rate of 36 percent in 2018, jumping 16 percentage points from 2014. Twenty-twenty saw another round of unprecedented youth voter turnout, and with so much at stake and so many moving parts to navigate, young voters are organizing already to ensure another year of record-breaking turnout in 2022.
Andrew Goodman Ambassadors are spending the Spring 2022 semester compiling resources for their peers about who is on their ballot, why these seats are important, and all of their voting options amid continually changing voting laws. On campuses beginning to return to in-person activity, Andrew Goodman Ambassadors are using this semester to get back to in-person voter registration drives and face-to-face political conversations. Many teams are ramping up campaigns to make Election Day a civic holiday on their campuses, mandate civic engagement presentations in first-year classes, secure a polling site on campus, and send out voting information to all students in the Fall 2022 semester. Andrew Goodman Ambassadors are leaving no stone unturned to ensure unfettered access to the ballot, not only for their peers on campus, but for all eligible voters.
What can you do?
With all of this information and urgency in mind, it’s never too soon to start preparing for the 2022 Midterm Elections. Here’s what you can do right now:
- Head to my.VoteEverywhere to register to vote, check your voter registration status, find your polling place or mail-in ballot rules, and make a plan to vote.
- Invite five of your friends, family members, colleagues, or neighbors to make their voting plans.
- Share your voting plan on social media to join in on the election buzz.
- Read The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Building a Youth Poll Worker Project written by Evan Malbrough, an alumnus of the Puffin Democracy Fellowship and the Andrew Goodman Vote Everywhere program. You can also check out alumnus Usjid Hameed’s Expanding the Ballot: Providing Language Assistance to Non-English Proficient Voters Through Multilingual Poll Workers to learn more about becoming a poll worker and creating equitable polling sites.
- Listen to the Live The Legacy podcast to get inspired and think about what–and who– you’re voting for.
It may feel like we’re all still recuperating from the massive 2020 Presidential Election, but we are well on our way to another impactful election that will chart our path forward, and young voters know it. The 2022 Midterm Elections are not to be missed.
About the Author
Caroline Smith is the Senior Program Manager: Partnership Strategist at The Andrew Goodman Foundation.