Midterm elections are often overlooked when compared to the attention paid to presidential election years, when turnout is higher. But the midterm elections are crucial to how you and your interests are represented—and that’s never been more true than this year.
Alongside issues like inflation, gun control, and voting rights, our reproductive rights are on the ballot. And how we show up at the polls (or don’t show up at all) will have long-term impacts on our bodies, our lives, and our futures. With less than a month to go before election day, here’s how to break down what’s on your ballot.
What’s on my ballot?
You likely have many options during these midterms, from congressional representatives to senators, governors, and local offices like city council and school board. Exactly what’s on your ballot depends on where you live and are registered to vote, but tools like Ballotready, Vote411, and Ballotpedia will generate a sample ballot based on your address. !!Reminder!! If you haven’t already registered, deadlines are fast approaching! Check your status here.
There are a total of 469 seats in Congress up for election on November 8th, including every single member of the House of Representatives. While the 435 members of the House serve two year terms, Senators serve 6-year terms and only a third (about 34 of the 100 Senators) are up for election each cycle. Members of Congress represent their constituents’ interests in federal legislation.
Voters in 36 states will be electing (or reelecting) governors. As the chief executives of states, Governors have considerable say in how state budgets are spent, what bills get signed into law, and the appointment of other state officials, like some judges.
Depending on your location, you’ll probably be asked to vote on a number of other candidates, like those running for mayor, the state legislature, attorney general, and others. Many of these officials have the power to write, implement, and enforce new laws that directly affect your life and community.
In some places, voters will get the chance to voice their opinions on direct questions about key issues. Importantly, if you’re in Kentucky, Montana, Vermont, California, and Michigan, you’ll be asked to vote specifically on abortion. Make sure you read each ballot initiative carefully before you cast your vote. Sample ballots like those on Ballotpedia and VoteSaveAmerica explain each measure on your ballot in detail.
How do I know what and who to vote for?
Voter guides and sample ballots are standard materials prepared in advance of all elections. These are often mailed directly to your registered address, and many are available online. While these helpful tools provide basic information on candidates and other election information, it’s important to do your own research.
A good place to start is to figure out what issues are important to you. Whether you care about climate change, animal rights, taxes, or reproductive rights, knowing what’s important to you will make it easier to research your ballot and prepare for election day. Ballot initiatives give you the opportunity to vote directly on an issue. The rest of the time you’ll be voting for candidates that you believe will best represent your interests in the future. This bipartisan website provides information about where different politicians stand on a variety of issues.
There are 108,293 seats on the ballot in 2022, which can sound daunting. However, knowing which candidates are on your ballot, their positions on issues that are important to you, and how they have voted on issues in the past is an important part of preparing to vote. A few resources can help you get started:
Candidate Websites: Even though a candidate’s website will be biased in their own favor, comparing sites should give you a good sense of each candidate’s background, experience, and stances on key issues.
Funding Sources: Money plays an outsized role in American politics. Knowing where candidates get their financing from can help you better understand what special interests influence how they do their jobs.OpenSecrets.org is a good source for Federal candidates (Senate and Congressional candidates) and Follow The Money can help you navigate state and local races.
Track Records: FactCheck.org can help you separate fact from fiction and understand candidates’ records and answers on important issues. If a candidate is currently serving in Congress, their voting records are available atCongress.govandGovtrack.com.
Compare Candidates on Issues: You can research and compare candidates' stances on specific issues using the Voter Guide powered byVoteSaveAmerica.
Protecting Reproductive Rights
If protecting reproductive rights and abortion access are important issues for you, resources specifically focused on these issues will help you prepare for election day. Check out the following lists of endorsed candidates who support reproductive rights:
#VoteProChoice: Since 2016, this organization has mobilized voters to elect pro-choice candidates who protect and expand reproductive freedom at every level of government.
Emily’s List: Emily’s list is a powerhouse organization focused on supporting pro-choice candidates and getting more pro-choice candidates on the ballot.
NARAL: This national organization works on reproductive and abortion rights across the board, day in and day out.
The fight to protect reproductive healthcare is inspiring us to head to the polls next month, but we want to help you research the issues and candidates that matter to you, no matter what. There’s only one wrong way to vote, and that’s to not vote at all. See you at the polls!