Your Starter Kit to Voting in Midterm Elections

Monday, October 15, 2018

“Not to own the means of production can lead to premature death, but not to own the means of representation is also a kind of death.” 
V I E T  T H A N H  N G U Y E N  |  T H E  S Y M P A T H I Z E R 

Apologies to Nguyen because I use this quote for literally everything, but it's so true in so many ways. From creating representation in literature/media to choosing representation in the state, if you have a need, it is worth addressing, and it worth finding the resources and people who will do that for you. 

When are the midterm elections?

Where do I go to vote?
Find your nearest polling place here
I personally really like voting by mail so I can take my sweet time and double-check my research. This isn't an option for every state, though -- so check! I know some people are also concerned about their ballots being lost in the mail. 

Follow-up: What exactly are the midterm elections?
The midterm elections are largely, but not totally, a referendum on Trump's presidency thus far. While he remains in office, we have the opportunity to vote on every seat in the House of Representatives, 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate and 39 state and territorial governships. You can read an overview of the incumbents here
So no, the election doesn't really ask what you want -- it asks who you want to elect to help get you what you want (though some states have ballot measures that serve the former). Either way, prepare to do a bit of research! More on how to "study" below.

Am I registered to vote?
You can check your registration status with's "Am I Registered to Vote" service! The deadline to register in California is Monday, 22 October, but if you miss the deadline you can still register at an election office and vote with a provisional ballot! You can confirm your state's registration deadline here.
If you are a student attending college out-of-state, you can either register in your home state or in the jurisdiction of your school (for example, I went to college in Missouri, but I registered in California). 

We're not interested in reinventing the wheel, so we've gathered some resources below that can better explain some FAQ. 

What are the issues at stake?
TL;DR: Climate change, immigration, healthcare, racism, abortion, gun control, economic policy, the Trump/Russia collusion investigation, foreign relations, voting rights, housing, and education

How can I prepare to cast an informed vote?
Do a practice run!
Ballotpedia contains "neutral, accurate, and verifiable information on government officials and the offices they hold, political issues and public policy, elections, candidates, and the influencers of politics." You can enter your registered address to learn more about the ballots you'll be voting on, as well as the candidates running for state/regional/local office. To research judges further, you'll want to look at their voting record, endorsements, and party affiliations (since most will be listed as nonpartisan).  

Other great resources are:
I LOVE THIS ONE. Vote Save America is a snappier, really well-designed version of Ballotpedia, with comprehensive information about each candidate's established stance on important issues, from abortion/contraception to wages/job benefits. It also breaks down each proposition to discuss: who supports it, who opposes it, what you endorse by voting no, and what you endorse by voting yes. Best of all, you can save all of your voting preferences and print it out as a cheat sheet for the real ballot (which likely will not be as cute as this one). 

Look up any candidate's biography, established positions, performance ratings, past speeches, and documented funding. You can also do a keyword search to see whether they've discussed anything of particular importance to you. (I always look up "Asian American" and "Taiwan"!) 

Additional Resources
Congressional primaries are the neglected stepchildren of American elections.  And yet, these races have a profound impact on policymaking in the United States. By examining who runs, who votes, and who wins in congressional primaries, The Primaries Project offers insights into what’s happening in the Republican and Democratic parties—and where the future of American politics is headed.
Discusses questions such as: "who can make history this year?" (Answer: many people, including Stacey Abrams, who could be the first African-American woman to lead a state, and Christine Hallquist, the first transgender candidate to be nominated for governor by a major party!) 
The National Council of Asian Pacific Americans (NCAPA), founded in 1996, is a coalition of 34 national Asian Pacific American organizations around the country. Based in Washington D.C., NCAPA serves to represent the interests of the greater Asian American (AA) and Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander (NHPI) communities and to provide a national voice for AA and NHPI issues. Note that the fact sheets are a little old!
Asian and Pacific Islander American Resources
Nearly one-third of Asian Americans have difficulty communicating in English. Did you know that Section 208 of the Voting Rights Act allows voters to bring someone into the voting booth to help them understand and cast a ballot? Do your parents, aunties, and church elders know this? Download multilingual fact sheets about voting rights here to share with your diasporic communities. 
Asian Americans have been part of the American story since its earliest days, and are now the U.S.'s fastest-growing racial group with the potential and power to shape our nation and the policies that affect us. Our mission is to advance civil and human rights for Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all. 
A survey released today by Asian and Pacific Islander American Vote (APIAVote) and AAPIData reveals many insights into the fastest-growing racial group in the United States, including their voting plans for House and Senate races in 2018, and various issue priorities such as education, health care, and the state of the economy.  In addition to election-related topics, the survey also contains key opinion data on affirmative action, labor protections, and immigration policy, including the administration’s recently announced plans to revoke the legal status of immigrants with green cards who have used government assistance.
 More soon!

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