Voting for the First Time? Here's What You Should Know About Voting in This Year's Midterm Election
If you're voting for the first time in the 2022 midterm election, chances are that you're excited, if not a little bit nervous, about casting those first votes.
Just because it's not a presidential election this time around doesn't mean your vote doesn't mean much. In fact, this election cycle is critical, as the senators, congresspeople, governors and more being voted into office are the ones creating the laws that decide how we live our lives. Curious about how to vote, and why your voice matters? We spoke to Jessica Jackson, a social media and administrative assistant who's also been a volunteer with the organization HeadCount since 2017, to get some insights on the upcoming election and why the latest generation of new voters can be so powerful this year.
Sweety High: Can you tell us a little bit about HeadCount? What's the organization's mission, and why is it especially important this year?
Jessica Jackson: HeadCount is a nonprofit organization working to engage with young prospective voters. We are completely nonpartisan, and we use the power of music to reach young people. We aim to register people to vote and educate them on elections both online as well as on the ground at thousands of events across the country. This year, we've gone on tour with Harry Styles, Lizzo, Panic! At The Disco, Chelsea Cutler and GAYLE to name a few; we've also done online sweepstakes with Billie Eilish, Meghan Trainor and Harry. With over 8 million newly eligible teen voters this year, we are working to reach as many of them as we can!
SH: How can midterm elections be just as critical as presidential elections?
JJ: In 2022, 35 senate seats, 435 congressional seats, 36 governors and countless local elected officials are on the ballot. Your vote impacts who represents you and your community, the laws that are made and what issues are prioritized. Every state has congressional elections during the midterms, so this is the time to have a say in the people who are writing and enacting our laws.
Also read about: 4 Little Things You Can Do to Get More Organized
SH: How many teens are eligible to vote for the first time in this election? Why are their votes so needed this time around?
JJ: Historically, nearly half of young voters drop off in midterm elections. The voters that do turnout are generally older, whiter and college-educated. However, this year there are over 8.3 million 18 and 19-year-olds newly eligible to vote in the midterm elections with over 46% of these potential voters being people of color. These 18 and 19-year-olds comprise 16% of the 18 to 29 youth bloc that is diversifying the electorate and their potential votes stand the chance to make a major impact on the elections.
SH: Why is it important to check your voter registration, even if you know you registered?
JJ: It's better to do a quick check of your status than to be surprised on election day! Many voter registrations get purged periodically (if you don't vote in several elections, your registration status can be affected), if you have recently moved (even if it's just a few blocks away), if you're away at school—all reasons to keep up with your voter registration to ensure you will be able to vote.
SH: Which states participate in mail-in voting? What should first-time voters know about mailing in their ballots?
JJ: Voting by mail is easy. However, every state has different guidelines and deadlines. With only a few weeks until the election, you should be mindful that a lot of deadlines to request a mail-in ballot are just days away. You can visit headcount.org/state/ to learn more about your state's voting requirements.
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SH: Why is it so important to review the candidates before voting? What are the best ways to learn more about them and what they really stand for?
JJ: It's important to know where the candidates stand on issues that are important to you, so you can make the most informed decision on who to vote for. Online resources such as Voterly provide comprehensive, nonpartisan information about the candidates and measures on your ballot at voterly.com/ballot.
SH: How can people who are too young to vote still get involved and encourage others to vote?
JJ: Volunteer with HeadCount: Get involved in politics and grassroots organizing! HeadCount works with hundreds of artists to register voters and raise social consciousness. Whenever they play a concert near a major city, we're there registering voters and promoting democracy.
Pledge to Vote: Sign up to pledge to vote and you will receive notifications on when and how to register when it is time!
People younger than 18 can still canvas for political candidates or parties that they have interest in by reaching out to their local campaigns or parties!
SH: Is there anything else we should know?
JJ: The midterms are critical, so please do your research and vote! An essential part of America is voter participation, so it is on all of us to hold the government accountable to what we want out of it by voting.
Want to learn more? Click HERE to read about why comedian Amanda Seales teamed up with HeadCount for her most recent tour.