Today's politics make only small groups of people happy, while others wish they had the power to change the government that is in place or to try to get a single issue to take more prominence in the current government. Whether or not you are far-right, far-left, somewhere in the middle, or on a completely different spectrum, if you have the ability to do so, VOTE. Even within our free country, there are people who are not allowed to vote here but would direly wish they could.
Many states have been creating new restrictive voting laws that make it terribly difficult for citizens to vote. Reinstatement of voting after someone has paid their penance and are no longer on parole takes time and effort to do, in some states you can be taken off of the registry because you haven't voted in a certain amount of time. While this is to try and thwart attempts at voter fraud, sometimes all it takes is only two years before you get taken off the roll.
With only 40% of eligible voters even turning out in midterm elections, many people only vote every four years for the presidential elections. However, these midterm elections count just as much--if not more than--presidential elections. These midterm elections elect officials that work much more closely with the constituents of your area. These officials are the ones that understand your area much better than a presidential candidate half-way across the country.
These are the officials that most directly affect you! The State Senate and State House of Representatives craft bills for your state that affect only you, however, those are hardly looked at. Local governments are the ones that know your area as well as you and can understand what needs to be done, and what the citizens want to be done.
Being an educated voter is difficult. There are a lot of people running for things and it is difficult to try and get to all of the candidates. Some people vote up and down a party line, and that's okay as long as you actually know that these people are the ones who will represent your area the best. However, there might be a Democrat that really speaks to you even though you have always been a Republican and vice versa. There are grey zones in the middle where people affiliate with a party but are moderate enough to attract voters from each side, so knowing who is who is very important.
Finding information on these candidates can be easier than you think too. Sites can show the ballots of state-wide elections like Ohio does here. By clicking a simple hyperlink you can view all of the candidates running for Congress, Governor, and other state positions. On their websites, you can quickly become up to date on the more important issues that they are running on.
For more local elections, this can help you find your local ballots to learn more about any issues that are going to be on there as well as the candidates that there will be.
If you are not registered to vote, then please do so. Many states have an online application that will allow you to do this from the comfort of your home, like Ohio or Kansas. Not to mention, during this election cycle there will probably be your friendly neighborhood campaign interns that would absolutely LOVE to register you at many different hot-spot locations throughout your city. Places like rallies, parades, farmers markets, and many more are likely to have someone give you the form, help you fill it out, and even turn it into the proper place for you.
As someone who works on a congressional campaign and hears every excuse in the book, I understand that voting is hard. Getting there can be difficult too! However as the midterm election gets closer, there are so many groups that would love to give you a ride to your voting location and help you out in that area!
Not even all of the citizens of the country are able to vote. Out of the people who have taken the first step in registering, usually less than half of those eligible actually take parts in elections. This is a unique and wonderful experience to take part in, and if you are feeling like your vote doesn't count or it won't make a difference, you are a part of something bigger happening. It might not change this election, but the issue might gain more momentum because of the support behind it and gather more and more supporters and, before you know it, you are an active part of the governmental decisions.