Americans made their way to the polls this past Tuesday, Nov. 8 to cast their votes for the 2022 midterm election. While results from a number of states are still pending due to ballots being counted, it is understood so far that the Democrats have maintained their majority in the Senate, while Republicans appear to be poised to win the House of Representatives.
While the House was generally predicted to land in the hands of the Republicans, the Senate was deemed a toss-up, with either side having a good shot at gaining control of it. 35 of the 100 seats in the Senate were up for election this year. The Democrats gained a seat, and the Republicans lost one. The House results so far have come to 204 Democrats, and 212 Republicans, with 218 needed for control.
The midterm elections occur every two years. One third of senators are chosen and every member of the House of Representatives is chosen.
Generally, the midterm elections do not receive as much publicity as the presidential election. However, they are still considered incredibly important because their results decide which party will control Congress, state legislatures, and governor’s offices. They also are widely considered to be a “referendum on the first two years of a presidential term – with the party in power often taking a beating,” as Anthony Zurcher of BBC explains.
Midterms tend to disclose the public’s feelings towards the president and their associated political party in power at the time of the election, giving a general prediction for how the next two years they have left in power are expected to go.
America has seen an influx of voters choosing to vote by mail or absentee vote in recent years, largely due to restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, it has also been proved to be more convenient for many voters. It saves them a trip to the polls on busy Election Day, which in turn also saves them from the time that they would have spent waiting in line. However, the increased prominence of voting by mail has also made elections lengthier because of the time it takes for ballots to be received and counted, leaving Americans waiting on election results over a week out from the midterm election.
It also has created some distrust among Americans toward the current election system because of the alleged potential risks posed by mail-in ballots, such as voter fraud. Many fear that the elections are becoming increasingly susceptible to voter fraud due to the rising number of mail-in ballots seen election after election and the potential for votes to be intentionally miscounted. However, these claims are often unsubstantiated.
For this election, there were many highly controversial yet important topics indirectly being voted on for the ballot. Abortion rights has been a major point of discussion, especially in wake of the overturning of Roe v Wade. Democrats have largely been pushing to uphold a nationwide legalization of abortion, whereas Republicans are seeking a national ban on abortions with ranging limitations.
For many American voters, abortion rights played a large role in the midterm elections and which candidates they voted for.
For many students at Monmouth University, the midterms were the first election they have ever had the opportunity to cast their votes in. Nashaviah Steward, a senior political science student, is one of the many students who voted in her first ever midterm election.
“As a first time voter, I learned a lot about local politics and our role in them, something I wasn’t incredibly knowledgeable about before this election. I feel that often when we think about politics, we think of them on a larger domestic scale. However, seeing local politicians on the ballot really showed how involved we can be as voters in this process,” explained Steward.
Another senior political science student elaborated on the significance of exercising the right to vote, saying that “It is important for people our age to vote. The reason young people in the U.S. feel their interests aren’t represented in our democracy is because most chalk their vote to mean nothing, when, as a collective demographic, it has the potential to shift elections and the political playing field.”
As Americans still await the last few results of the 2022 midterm election, it is clear that the importance of voting is understood amongst both the Democrats and the Republicans.
The United States continues to see voter turnout on the rise, and as the country comes closer to the presidential election in 2024, many American citizens are desperate for their voices to be heard on different issues and ideas that they want to see addressed.