As the United States prepares for the 2018 midterm elections at the end of this year, searches for the keyword “midterms” has spiked on the internet. Worldwide and in the US, people have been asking a number of questions related to the upcoming vote. Three basic questions seem to be of most interest to them:
- What are midterm elections?
- When are midterm elections?
- How can you find your voting location?
This article addresses these questions.
What are midterm elections?
The President is elected for a mandate of four years renewable once. Due to staggered terms in Congress, elections are held every 2 years, often halfway through a Presidential mandates. These elections are known as the midterm elections. The elections were principally setup to elect members of the American federal legislature but a great deal of voting in state and local elections has traditionally been scheduled on the same day. Gubernatorial seats are also a particular focus during this year’s elections. As such, in a phrase international readers might recognize, the midterms are America’s general elections.
The American legislative branch of Government has two chambers. The lower chamber is known as the House of Representatives, with 435 members. The upper chamber, the Senate, has 100 seats. According to Ballotpedia, in this year’s midterms “all 435 seats [in the House of Representatives] will be up for election”.
Some Federal Special elections will also be held to fill “vacancies that occured in the 115th Congress”. “ Also, Vox has pointed out that a “one third of the Senate, and most governorships will be at stake, along with hundreds of state legislative seats and local offices around the country.”
When are the 2018 midterm elections?
The midterms will be organised nationwide on Tuesday November, 06 2018. American federal elections have been voting on Tuesdays since 1845, despite the fact that it is in the middle of the work week. One reason for America’s low voter turnout is that Election Day is on a Tuesday, instead of the weekend, and is not a national holiday. Also, election day is not legal public holiday for purposes of Federal employment.
How to gain access to voting
The right to vote is a fundamental civil right in the USA. To vote in the midterms, eligible voters must first be able to register. As summed up in a good friendly way recently at Refinery29:
“In order to vote in the United States you must be a citizen. You must also be a resident of the state in which you wish to vote. According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 26 states require that you be a resident of the state from anywhere between 10 and 30 days. The remaining 24 states do not have durational residency requirements. Note that you can be homeless and still meet these requirements. You can find a full list or residency requirements in each state here.”
Most states require that members register here to vote before a given deadline. Even Americans living in the diaspora abroad can follow procedures outlined in official sites. Valid identification is required of course and almost always only registered voters are allowed to vote on polling day.
Make sure to register to vote as soon as possible and even if you are too late. The next elections aren’t all that far away!