I love writing about politics, particularly the United States political system. The 2018 midterm elections are just a month away.
My guide on the 2018 midterm election primaries has started picking up traffic again, so it’s time to write an updated blog post on the midterm elections. I know many Americans still have questions about the upcoming general election, so I’m here to help.
Below you will find details on the following voting topics:
- Voter registration
- Absentee voting
- Voter ID requirements
- Senate races
- Governor races
- Ballot measures
If I don’t answer your question about voting in November, please leave me a comment. I will try to find the answer for you!
Once again I didn’t get a new political post published in time for National Voter Registration Day, which was September 27th. However, I did share an old political post, so I think that counts as celebrating.
Registering to vote is very simple. Multiple websites allow Americans to register to vote.
Just fill out the short form and TA-DA! You can vote in November.
Depending on where you live, you can also register to vote in person at your local library, at the DMV, or at another government office.
How do I know if I’m registered to vote?
If you voted in the primary elections earlier this year (or in the 2016 presidential election) and you haven’t moved, you’re probably already registered to vote! If you didn’t vote in either of those elections, or you’ve moved since then, you can use the interactive map at Nonprofit Vote to find voter registration details for your state.
First select your state. Then click on the button “Check Your Registration.” This will take you to your state’s website. Finally, fill out the form. Then you will know if you’re registered to vote or not.
Where should college students register to vote?
Depending on your home state and where you attend school, you can register to vote with your permanent address or your school address. Look at Campus Vote Project for your state’s guidelines. If you’re attending school out-of-state, look up both your home state and your school’s state.
Is it too late to register to vote?
At publication date, no, it is not too late to register to vote. However, voting registration deadlines vary by state. The earliest deadline is Sunday, October 7, 2018. Many states have Tuesday, October 9, 2018 as their voter registration deadline. This is less than a week away. Register to vote today!
Ballotpedia has its own interactive map to find voting policies and deadlines in each state.
The majority of my American readers live in the following states, so I’ve assembled the information for you.
Colorado Voter Registration Deadlines
Colorado has generous voter registration deadlines. You can even register in-person on Election Day! However, I recommend registering in advance.
- Monday, Oct. 15, 2018 (If collected at a voter registration drive)
- Monday, Oct. 29, 2018 (If by mail or online)
- Colorado has Same Day Registration. After Oct. 29, you may register and vote by appearing in-person at a voter service and polling center through Election Day.
Georgia Voter Registration Deadlines
My fellow Georgians, listen up. Our deadline is SOON.
- Tuesday, Oct. 9, 2018
New York Voter Registration Deadlines
I’m pretty sure I only have a lot of New York readers because a lot of people live in New York. Regardless, I looked up y’all’s registration deadline too.
- Friday, Oct. 12, 2018 (application postmark deadline AND deadline to register in person at the board of elections)
Ohio Voter Registration Deadlines
Because the deadline to register to vote is so soon, I recommend registering online or in-person, not via mail.
- Tuesday, October 9, 2018 (deadline for registering in-person or online; deadline for the receipt of registration applications by mail)
South Carolina Voter Registration Deadlines
Due to Hurricane Florence, South Carolina extended its voter registration deadline.
- Wednesday, October 17, 2018 (deadline for registering in-person or online; application postmark deadline)
Absentee Voting and Early Voting
An absentee vote is a vote cast by mail in advance of Election Day. Generally, if you vote absentee, you do not vote in person on Election Day.
3 states offer voting by mail: Colorado, Oregon, Washington. This eliminates the need for separate absentee voting.
20 states require a valid excuse to vote absentee. Find the full list on Ballotpedia. Common valid excuses include having to work, having a chronic illness or disability, or being away from your county on election day. As a college student, I voted absentee a few times since I was away at school on Election Day.
27 states and Washington D.C. allow any citizen to cast an absentee ballot. Read the full list on Ballotpedia.
How do I vote absentee?
Rock the Vote makes it easy to find your state’s details on absentee voting. Choose your state from the interactive map. From there, look at the gray table of information on the left. Find the link about absentee voting in your state.
You can also return to the interactive map at Nonprofit Vote.
Is absentee voting the same as early voting?
Absentee voting and early voting are not the same. With a few exceptions, you cast an absentee ballot by mail. When you vote early, you still vote at a polling location. States vary on whether or not you need a valid excuse to vote absentee. However, you don’t need an excuse to vote early.
9 states don’t offer early voting, but they do allow absentee in-person voting, with a valid excuse. These states are:
- New York
- South Carolina
This government website breaks down everything you need to know about absentee voting and early voting.
How do I vote early?
The majority of states offer early voting. Once again, you can find out about early voting dates and places by selecting your state on the interactive map at Nonprofit Vote.
The following states do not offer in-person early voting, nor do they offer in-person absentee voting. These states are:
- New Hampshire
- Rhode Island*
However, in both Oregon and Washington, you vote by mail. You can’t vote at the polls. At both of those links, you can find your ballot drop box if you don’t want to send in your ballot by mail. Rhode Island also allows early voting by mail, in addition to in-person voting on Election Day.
Voter ID Requirements
Just skimming voter ID requirements confuses me. Thus I will just direct you to a few resources to find out what sort of ID you need to 1) register to vote and/or 2) cast a ballot.
NCSL: Voter ID Laws (a general overview, plus charts with state information)
Vote.org: Voter ID Laws (for voting in person and for voting absentee)
USA.gov: Voter ID Requirements (voter registration, provisional ballots, types of ID, and more)
2018 Senate Races
Each state has 2 senators, for a total 100 senators in Congress. US senators serve 6-year terms. This year, 35 Senate seats are up for reelection, including 2 special elections. Currently, 51 senators are Republican, 47 senators are Democrat, and 2 are Independent. 9 Republican seats are up for reelection. 26 Democratic seats are up for reelection.
Find the entire list of states with senators up for reelection on Electoral-Vote.com.
According to 270 to Win, competitive Senate races are in the following states:
- North Dakota
*Indicates that the incumbent is not seeking reelection this year. This is also true of Tennessee and Utah. All other states include the incumbent running for reelection to Senate.
However, even if your state’s Senate seat is unlikely to change party hands, that’s not a reason to skip voting. Election results can be surprising. Make your voice heard by voting.
2018 Governor Races
36 states will elect or reelect a new governor this November. Out of those 36 states, 9 races are somewhat or very competitive according to 270 to Win. These states are:
The other states with gubernatorial elections are:
- New Hampshire
- New Mexico
- New York
- Rhode Island
- South Carolina
- South Dakota
Again, you still need to vote even if the gubernatorial election in your state isn’t close. You never know what might happen. Political candidates have upset all the predictions before.
2018 Ballot Measures
Are you excited to find out what else will be on your ballot this November? As usual, several states will vote on controversial issues like abortion and marijuana.
Ballot measures could have a great effect on your immediate daily life. It’s so important to vote for or against ballot measures that could drastically change your state.
38 states will include ballot measures this November. Find the entire list of states and ballot measures on Ballotpedia.
5 states have a marijuana-related ballot measure up for vote this year. These states are:
- North Dakota
And this is where I stop being nonpartisan. 3 states have an abortion-related ballot measure up for vote this year.
Alabama’s measure would change the state constitution to try and ban abortions. If passed, this could be a challenge to Roe v. Wade. Women are people. Fetuses are not. A Yes vote on this measure would prioritize the rights of fetuses over women.
Oregon’s measure would change the state constitution and negatively impact anyone on Medicaid or a state-sponsored health plan. “Under current law, abortions may be obtained, when approved by medical professional, under state-funded health plans or under health insurance procured by or through a public employer or other public service.”
If passed, no public health insurance plans would cover abortion. This means all state employees or low-income residents would need to pay any necessary abortion costs out-of-pocket. The only exceptions would be if the pregnant person’s life is in danger.
West Virginia’s measure would change the state constitution to try and ban abortions if Roe v. Wade is overturned. West Virginia already has laws against abortion that currently can’t be followed thanks to the protection of Roe v. Wade. This state constitutional amendment is essentially a preemptive measure to criminalize abortion if Roe v. Wade is overturned.
Phew! I know that’s a lot of information, but honestly, I barely scratched the surface. Hopefully all the included links will help you dig deeper into your state’s election process.
- Register to vote
- Research your city’s, county’s, and state’s candidates
- Research your city’s, county’s, and state’s ballot measures
- Encourage your friends and family to do the same
Have a question not covered in this post or at any of the provided links? Leave a comment and ask! I will do my best to answer.
Please share this blog post with your friends and family. All of us should do our civic duty this year and VOTE.