On National Voter Registration Day, Here's How to Do Your Part
On November 6, 2018, Americans across the country will vote in the first midterm elections of Donald Trump’s presidency. The stakes are high – results of this vote will be more important than ever.
Republicans currently hold majorities in the House of Representatives and the Senate. If Democrats get out the vote, they could put a stop to the Republicans’ destructive legislative agenda, have the opportunity to block unqualified nominees, gain some leverage in investigating the Trump administration, and more. If they don’t, Republicans get to keep their control over all three branches of government, and earn more control over state legislation that might make it even tougher to ever win it back.
In 2014’s midterms, only 23 percent of voters aged 18-24 turned out. And according to a recent poll, the level of interest in the 2018 midterms is only 35 percent among young voters (compared to 73 percent among seniors). But there’s still a chance to get that enthusiasm up and get people excited about the opportunity ahead of them. Think your vote doesn’t matter? Without the votes from those under 30, Barack Obama would not have won his second term in 2012.
So it’s on us to prove the polls wrong by educating ourselves, and getting our communities excited about the change we can make by voting. If you’re confused about what the midterm elections are or how to do your part, follow these easy steps in preparation to GO FUCKING VOTE in November.
Step 1: Register to Vote!!!
Before you can vote in any election, you have to make sure you’re registered to do so. When it comes to registration, not every state is created equally — currently, only 17 states plus the District of Columbia offer same day registration. In some states, you have to register as many as 30 days in advance of the election.
We are lucky to live in a country where we get to have a say in who governs us. Why throw it away by not getting involved? 62 percent of people who are not registered voters say they’ve never been asked to register — so we can start by asking.
Check your status and begin the registration process right now with Rock the Vote. And share with a friend (or five).
Step 2: Educate Yourself
Once you’ve confirmed your registration, you’ll want to spend some time learning about the people, parties, and policies that will appear on your ballot. During a midterm election, you will vote in a range of federal, state, and local elections that are super-specific to where you are registered.
Here’s a quick rundown of what’s at stake for 2018:
- Federal: all 435 seats in the House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate will be up.
- State: 39 governorships, 87 of the 99 state legislative chambers, and six of the nine territorial legislative chambers will be up.
- Local: this one is dependent on your zip code, but you can look for positions like Mayor on your ballot.
Step 3 (Optional): Let’s Get Partisan
Your vote matters — and so do the votes of your peers. This midterm isn’t about convincing hardcore Republicans to switch their vote to the other side, or vice versa. This midterm is about convincing new people to register and to use their voice at all.
In 2018, Democrats face the most unfavorable Senate map that any party has ever faced in any election, as Democrats have to defend 24 Senate seats to eight Republican Senate seats. It’s going to be tough.
But this year, a record number of progressive women and candidates of color will be on ballots across the country, including Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a 28-year-old activist and former bartender up for Congress in New York; Ayanna Pressley, the first woman of color elected to Boston’s city council up for Congress in Massachusetts; Andrew Gillum, the African-American mayor of Tallahassee up for Governor in Florida; and David Garcia, a Mexican-American professor up for Governor in Arizona.
These are candidates worth getting excited about — they represent a welcome change to our political norms and offer a chance for us to fight back against the repressive Republican regime. And the momentum of progressive voters who showed up to bring them to primary victories is only good news for November.
So if you feel strongly about any of these candidates or anyone on your own ballot, it’s important that you share that spirit with others. Use this next month to get out and volunteer for someone you believe in. Whether it’s by canvassing, phone banking, letter-writing, or something else, anything helps.
Check out Crooked Media’s Vote Save America initiative to find out how to get involved in turning America blue.
Step 4: Get Out and Vote
In the 2016 Presidential Election, about 43 percent of eligible voters didn’t vote, according to turnout estimates from the U.S. Elections Project. In other words, those who chose not to vote vastly outnumbered those voted for Clinton, Trump, or even a third-party candidate.
No matter who you’re voting for, the most important thing is that you get out and do it. Whether it’s your first time or hundredth time, the process can be confusing. So don’t be afraid to ask questions when you get there. Poll workers have volunteered their time to make sure voters can play their part.
If you won’t be able to get to the polls, no worries — you can still vote from afar. You’ll just have to check to see how to get mail in your absentee ballot in time for the election.
Check your polling place or get an absentee ballot by finding your state election website. Don’t forget to screenshot the info so you remember on Election Day.
Happy voting fam!
Graphic courtesy of Zoe Kidwell
Stay tuned to Milk for more voting stuff.