The midterm elections have finally arrived, and you need to get out and vote. It might seem America has been perpetually voting since the last presidential election because of special elections, primaries, off-year governorships, school boards, and local elections, but next Tuesday is one that especially matters.
You need to vote.
If you don’t know where you vote, you can look up polling locations by state here.
If you know you are a registered voter but are not on the voter rolls or in the book of registered voters, you are still entitled to vote using a ballot that is referred to as a provisional ballot (sometimes called an affidavit or challenge ballot). The Help America Vote Act of 2002 requires states provide these ballots, and while these votes are only counted if the number cast could change results, they can make a difference in close races.
If you are at a polling place and encounter a problem, are denied a provisional ballot, voting machines are not working, or other people are denied access to voting, call 866-OUR-VOTE and report the problem.
If you need help getting to your polling place, there are several options. Carpool Vote helps connect drivers with voters. Voto Latino is partnering with rideshare services to offer discounted and free rides to the polls. Local political parties often provide rides to the polls for constituents in their communities.
Poll times vary by state. Anyone waiting on line when polls close is entitled to vote. Do not leave the line until you have voted.
You need to vote. Your friends need to vote. Everyone needs to vote.
At stake in this election is everything. You need to vote. And you should vote for Democrats. Democrats are imperfect. Democrats will let you down. But the 2018 midterm elections aren’t about finding perfection; they are about survival. It isn’t hyperbole to suggest Western civilization is at stake.
Control of the Senate:
Mitch McConnell spent the final months of President Obama’s term blocking a vote on Supreme Court nominee Merrick Garland. Since then, the Republican-controlled Senate has added two conservative justices threatening abortion rights, privacy, and protecting corporate interests. Also, one of those justices is a rapist who lied under oath to the Senate judiciary committee. The only way to stop Mitch McConnell from filling the next open Court seat with another Brett Kavanaugh is to hand Democrats a majority—and that means picking up Senate seats in Nevada, Arizona, Tennessee, and Texas, as well as holding onto contested Democratic incumbent seats.
The right to abortion on demand and access to birth control are at stake in this election. This is not a matter of, to quote The Simpsons, “abortions for some, miniature American flags for others!” This election will literally determine whether abortion remains legal. Mitch McConnell has already stacked the Supreme Court with anti-abortion justices. The only way to safeguard abortion rights now is through federal legislation—which means a Democratic Congress and and Democratic Senate.
The first thing the Republican-controlled congress did after winning in 2016 was begin to chip away at healthcare. They targeted key provisions of the ACA, better known as Obamacare, the healthcare law that eliminated pre-existing conditions and that was beginning to lower costs on average. That was so long ago, Republicans are hoping you have forgotten how they’ve underfunded state programs making it more costly, tried making it harder to sign up for individual plans, and are still trying to remove pre-existing condition protections. Every person reading this is either a person with or knows a person with a pre-existing condition. Ailments as common as asthma can cause insurance rates to increase, and diseases like cancer can make insurance premiums unaffordable. Mitch McConnell is backing a lawsuit to undo pre-existing condition protections. Republicans want to take away your healthcare.
Republicans cut taxes for millionaires and big businesses. Despite the hype, most Americans didn’t see any benefits from those cuts, and businesses kept the money as profit rather reinvesting. The biggest beneficiaries were millionaires, like Jared Kushner, who hasn’t paid federal taxes in years, and Donald Trump, who inherited his wealth through tax-cheat scams.
At this point there is overwhelming evidence Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election. The remaining questions are who was involved, and what laws have Americans broken. Donald Trump’s campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, has already been found guilty of eight crimes. Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, has also pled guilty to campaign violations.
The only way to continue this investigation and determine all the responsible parties is to elect Democrats. If control of Congress is given to Democrats, they can protect the special counselor Robert Mueller, who Donald Trump has threatened to fire on several occasions. There are also recent reports a Republican operative has been attempting to pay women to to falsely accuse Mueller of misconduct. Congress can also open its own investigation into the 2016 election, with subpoena power, and can act on recommendations from Robert Mueller’s report.
Social Security and Medicare:
Millennials may not ever have the chance to retire with the benefit of Social Security, but at least we could rest peacefully knowing we wouldn’t have to worry about supporting our parents. But Mitch McConnell has something else in mind for Social Security and Medicare—instead of rolling out Medicare for all, he wants to make it Medicare for none. That’s right, the next step on the Republican-led healthcare agenda is reducing payouts for earned benefits like those from Social Security and Medicare to help offset the cost of the tax cuts for billionaires.
Earlier this year, generic ballot polls where no specific candidate was named suggested Democrats might have a historic lead in the midterm elections. With an unpopular agenda and an unpopular president leading their party, Republicans decided to cheat. Republican-led state legislatures have worked for years to make it more difficult for people to vote—especially poor people and people of color. Republicans don’t benefit when non-white people vote. The Republican strategy has been to disqualify and prevent the people who don’t support them from voting, and this year it’s been worse than usual.
In Georgia, the Republican candidate for governor is the sitting Secretary of State tasked with the responsibility of overseeing votes and elections. He purged more than 500,000 registered voters and tossed out absentee votes for “signature mismatch.” In North Dakota, a voter identification law requiring a physical address disproportionately impacts Native Americans who reside on reservations. Unsurprisingly, Native Americans aren’t big fans of Republicans. Four Directions, a Native American-run organization, has been helping tribes produce the necessary identification for members. They need our support—donate today.
Other states are closing polling locations in neighborhoods without a majority of white voters, like a town in Kansas that closed its only polling location within city limits because it has a majority of Latinx residents. The easiest way to suppress votes is by purging registered voters, and that’s been happening a lot. 55,000 voters were purged in Georgia’s 3rd Congressional District. 500,000 voters were purged last year in Indiana. And it’s not just red states—even deeply blue states like New York have had voter purge scandals.
Overcoming voter suppression isn’t impossible. The best way to do this is to overwhelm the polls with high voter turnout. If you show up at a poll location and are denied the right to vote, be sure to demand an affidavit ballot, which states are required to provide by federal law.
State-by-state, every vote matters—but these votes matter most:
Democrat Jacky Rosen has a close race with Republican incumbent Dean Heller. Heller called Bret Kavanaugh’s rape allegations a “hiccup” on the nominating process. Heller voted to repeal Obamacare, and voted to give big tax cuts to millionaires. Replacing Heller with a Democrat is essential to Democratic control of the Senate.
North Dakota Senate
Incumbent Democrat Senator Heidi Heitkamp voted against rapist Brett Kavanaugh despite knowing the vote could cost her reelection. Native Americans have also been traditional supporters, but they are being prevented from voting by a voter identification law that targets residents of reservations. Heitkamp is imperfect, having voted for Neil Gorsuch, the Republican Supreme Court Justice who filled the seat left vacant when Mitch McConnell refused to have an up or down vote on President Obama’s nominee Merrick Garland. But keeping Heitkamp in the Senate is essential to block future Republican nominations.
Democrat Beto O’Rourke is challenging incumbent Republican Ted Cruz. Believe women; Ted Cruz doesn’t. During the Brett Kavanaugh hearings, Cruz was a staunch defender of Kavanaugh. And, Ted Cruz wants more money. Despite his Senate salary of $174,000, and his wife’s estimated salary of $500,000 a year, Ted’s wife Heidi is upset the couple can’t afford to buy a second home. Cruz still wants to take away your healthcare. O’Rourke, a Texas Congressman, has visited every county in Texas, all two hundred fifty-four of them, and he’s pushing a progressive agenda, including single-payer healthcare.
Democrat Kyrsten Sinema is running to fill an empty seat vacated by Republican Senator Jeff Flake. Flake is what some conservatives would call a moderate Republican, meaning he often made a little speech before voting to support Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump’s agenda. His Republican replacement, Martha McSally, won’t even bother with the speech before rubber-stamping the Trump-McConnell agenda. Flipping the Arizona Senate seat to a Democrat is essential for winning back a majority in the Senate.
Democrat Phil Bredesen, who served as governor of the state, earned the endorsement of Taylor Swift, and would be an unexpected pick-up for Democrats. Swift’s endorsement led to a spike in voter registrations. Meanwhile, Republican Marsha Blackburn is a favorite of Donald Trump.
Incumbent Democrat Bill Nelson faces a tough reelection campaign with a challenge from Republican Governor Rick Scott. Rick Scott helped undo necessary environmental regulations, leading to a record bloom of red tide, a deadly alga that closed many Florida beaches. He also refused to expand Medicaid under Obamacare legislation, preventing many Florida residents from getting access to health insurance.
A Democratic Senate majority depends on re-electing these incumbent Democrats.
Democrats face a particularly difficult Senate map with more incumbents up for reelection, and in states that are traditionally more conservative. Creating a Democratic majority depends on holding these seats. These races are by no means decided, and voters should consider them essential. Local newspapers endorsing the candidates explain why voting for them is so important:
Other races that matter:
As many as ninety-nine House of Representative districts are considered competitive. There is a competitive race in nearly every state, and if no other branch of government swings Democrat, at least a Democrat-controlled House of Representatives can restore balance and help ensure open, honest government. This map shows the most competitive house races, but even unexpected races can be competitive if you vote—just ask Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Democrat Andrew Gillum is in a close race for governor of Florida against Republican Ron DeSantis. Ron refuses to refer to Mayor Gillum by the title “Mayor” or even “Mister,” preferring to belittle him by only referring to him as “Andrew.” The governorship of Florida is important for all of us. The next governor will oversee ballots and voting rights in Florida during the 2020 presidential election, and Florida matters.
Democrat Stacey Abrams faces off against sitting Secretary of State Brian Kemp. Kemp is actively working to disenfranchise black and minority voters. He’s purged 500,000 voters and tried to disqualify absentee ballots based on “mismatched” signatures. It is an inherent conflict to both be on the ballot and to oversee the election process, and Kemp is failing the sniff test. The governor’s race will help determine who sets Congressional districts in the rapidly blue-ing state after the 2020 census, and will oversee ballots and elections during the 2020 Senate race and 2020 Presidential election.
Democrat Tony Evers has a good chance of defeating Scott Walker, the Republican governor known for decimating state budgets, especially education, and for stripping away union workers’ collective bargaining rights. A Democratic governor will also help ensure that in 2020 Presidential election, every vote is counted.
Vote Tuesday. Tell your friends to vote Tuesday. Tell people you see on the street to vote.
Democrats have 2,400 women running as candidates for every level of office, more than twice the number of Republicans. Democrats have 133 people of color running for Congress. Democrats can prevent another Trump-appointed Supreme Court justice. Democrats can stop vote suppression, save Social Security and Medicare, protect healthcare for people with pre-existing conditions, and stop the Donald Trump/Mitch McConnell agenda of hate.
Vote Tuesday. Vote for Democrats.