It’s finally upon us: the 2018 midterm election cycle is fully underway. With the 2018 midterms just around the corner (Nov. 6, in case you’re wondering), it’s time to do a quick double-check: Are you registered to vote? If you’re been wondering what your status is, and whether you can vote early and how, here’s your quick look at how to register to vote, how to find out about early voting, and more.
Consider this your handy checklist for making sure you have everything ready to go for this election cycle.
What’s the big focus of this election?
There’s a lot at at stake. While midterms historically have low-voter turnout in the US, there’s more than enough variables going on to suggest this year might be different. After all, it’s no secret that political tensions are at an all-time high. Typically in midterm elections, the president’s party takes a hit and loses, on average, 32 seats in the House of Representatives and two seats in the Senate, according to Politifact.
So, while we won’t be voting for a new commander-in-chief, President Donald Trump’s presence looms large. As of publication, President Trump’s popularity rating hovers just above 42 percent, according to aggregate poll data from FiveThirtyEight.
Democrats and candidates opposed to the president and his policies are banking on strong voter turnout from #TheResistance to usher in new congressional candidates who can push back on the president’s policies. (Whether or not they end up flipping the Senate remains more or less a coin toss.)
Who, exactly, are we voting on?
We’re not voting for president since this isn’t a presidential election year. But—there are still a lot of other races at the federal, state, and local level. All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for election, as well as one-third of the Senate. At the state level, 33 states will have elections for new governors, while some cities will also hold elections for mayor.
And in case you’re wondering about the Electoral College, that’s not at play here. State voters elect their congressional representatives directly. Read more about the process on USA.gov.
How do I check if I’m registered to vote?
If you’re previously registered to vote and have moved, you’ll want to definitely check the status of your voter registration. You can always check with your local county election office. Though, thanks to the internet and some voter-registration campaigns, you can also check online.
Sites like Rock the Vote and HeadCount allow you to quickly verify whether you’re registered. Just input your name, information and other residency details to see if you come up on the voter rolls. They’ll also help you find your polling place.
How do I register to vote?
Commonly, people fill out voter registration forms at state offices like the Department of Motor Vehicles (a.k.a., the DMV), which allows you to fill out and submit a paper voter application registration. Certain states also allow you to register online. Again, Rock the Vote and the Voter Participation Centerare good places to start.
Don’t sleep on the government’s official election voting site, though. You can plenty of resources there.
How do I find out if my state has early voting?
The number of people participating in early voting has increased in recent years. Still, only 37 states and the District of Columbia allow early voting. The deadline to register for early voting in a state also varies, with most deadlines hovering around 30 days prior to an election. Other states like Vermont, will allow early voting registration up till 6 days prior to an election. You can check FairVote for an interactive mapof early voting registration deadlines.
And to start your registration process or check your status, start by texting “GIRLBOSS” to RTVOTE.