Midterms may be less celebrated than the presidential elections, but they can still be just as consequential.
Ahead, we break down everything you need to know about the 2022 midterms—including when they are, how you can vote, and why it's so important.
What are midterm elections?
Midterms occur every two years and determine who will represent you in both chambers of Congress.
Those in the House of Representatives serve two-year terms, meaning that every midterm election will decide all 435 seats. Meanwhile, those elected in the Senate serve six-year terms. Since Senate terms are staggered, a third of the 100 seats in this chamber are to be voted on in every midterm cycle.
When are the midterms?
This year, the general midterm election falls on Tuesday, November 8. Prior to that, states held their own primary elections, which determined the candidate who would represent each political party for each state for the general election.
The dates for early and in-mail voting vary state by state. You can find out the important voting dates for your location here.
How can I vote in the midterms?
You'll first have to check your registration status in your state, which you can do here.
If you are registered, congrats! You can head to your registered address's specific voting location on November 8 to cast your ballot, or check your state's website for specific information on how to vote early or mail in your ballot.
Should I care about the midterms?
Since midterm elections determine who will be representing you in Congress, they have a huge impact on which party will control the legislative agenda. It's also an indicative temperature check on voters' feelings about the current presidential term.
With President Joe Biden halfway through his first term (and with his approval ratings consistently hitting new lows), the outcome of this year's midterms may either augment or block his ability to fulfill his campaign promises.
The Washington Post noted that midterm elections tend to trend with the party in control of the White House losing seats. "It has usually been that the party in power expects a wake-up call," Laura Smith, a presidential historian at Oxford University, told the newspaper. "Americans have tended to vote in divided government in the midterms as a bit of a slap in the face to the sitting president."
Besides electing members of Congress, midterm ballots may also contain important statewide measures. New Yorkers, for example, will also be voting on measures regarding climate resiliency projects and various racial justice initiatives. To find out what you can expect on your ballot for this midterm cycle, look up your registered address here.
When will we know the results?
While the midterm election results are usually announced the night of Election Day after polls close, or early on the morning after, some experts are warning that this time around, the counting process may take longer—possibly much longer, like over a week.
This is due to the increase in voters, including those who have been voting by mail, and because this race is particularly tight.
While many news organizations announce a predicted result on election night, experts tell ABC News that it actually takes days and weeks to count all the votes.
Additionally, because this race is so consequential and the parties so polarized, it is likely some candidates will request a recount or contest results.
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