Chelsea Burns, Content Editor
October 27, 2022
When it comes to voting, presidential elections tend to get all of the attention. But did you know that midterm elections are just as important (some might even argue they’re more important) as presidential elections? Midterm elections determine the House of Representatives and the Senate—the two places where bills get proposed and pushed through to the president. Let’s have a little government refresher, shall we?
The House of Representatives is made up of 435 seats (each state gets a different amount depending on their population). All 435 seats go up for election every two years. The majority party of the House of Representatives holds significant power to draft chamber rules and schedule bills to reach the floor for debate and voting. If the bill passes by simple majority (218 of 435), the bill moves to the Senate. In the senate, again, a simple majority (51 of 100) passes the bill. One third of Senate officials get voted on every two years. All this to say, if either majority, the House or the Senate, doesn’t care about the issues you care about (ahem, climate change), bills regarding those issues are likely not going to come up.
But on top of the House and Senate being up for election this midterm, there are also many local elections (e.g. Attorney General, Secretaries of State) being held that greatly affect the future of your community. Bottom line: It’s time to vote! Here’s what you need to know.
Going to the polls empty handed can be overwhelming. Take a look at your ballot ahead of time to see what issues and positions are going to be on there so you can do your research and plan your answers. Hot tip: Create a cheat sheet to take with you so you don’t have to memorize your answers (yes, that’s allowed—it’s not school!). This will also help you get in and out of the polling booth faster once it’s your turn. Enter your address at ballotpedia.org for your local ballot details.
Curious which candidates on your ballot are pro-planet? The Sierra Club put together a list of candidates (only U.S. House and Senate) they endorse by state based on their track record of how they’ve voted for the planet in the past and initiatives they’ve supported.
Bring Your Credentials
Make sure you have the correct forms of ID. If you don’t have what’s needed you may be asked to use a provisional ballot, which isn’t ideal. Visit vote.org/voter-id-laws/ for the ID forms your state allows.
Make sure you’re going to the right polling place. vote.org/polling-place-locator/ According to vote.org, in many states if you cast a provisional ballot at the wrong polling location it will not be counted.
The lines may be long, but as long as you are in line when the polls close, you will be allowed to cast your ballot. If you leave the line, you may not be able to vote.
Other Ways To Get Involved
Can’t vote? No problem. Here are some other ways you can participate in democracy.
- Take action
Share petitions, join rallies or marches, and help organize events for issues you care about.
- Make a statement
Use your social media platforms to educate your friends and followers on issues you care about. You can do this by sharing your own thoughts or by sharing posts from other organizations.
- Join organizations
There’s an organization for almost everything these days. Find one that’s doing work in an area that’s meaningful to you and volunteer your time, money, or resources to help make a difference.