CHICAGO (WLS) — It’s election season and midterms are right around the corner. Democrats and Republicans are battling for control of the House and Senate.
Illinois voters will decide on key Senate and House seats, a governor and more. But, midterms historically have lower voter turnout when you compare them to presidential elections.
We’re breaking down what you need to know before Election Day on Nov. 8.
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“Midterms are really important because they decide control of government,” said Kumar Ramanathan, a GENForward research fellow. “Every midterm election determines who controls the House of Representatives and often can decide who controls the Senate.”
The House of Representatives and the Senate make up what we call Congress. Right now, all 435 House seats are up for grabs, along with a third of the Senate seats. Those elected officials largely control what legislation is passed and how policy is enacted.
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“Joe Biden’s presidency started with the narrowest possible majority in the Senate,” Ramanathan said.
Right now, Democrats are able to push more agenda items through, along with legislation or bills- the documents that later become laws.
“Even losing one seat could mean a totally different kind of Biden administration,” Ramanathan said. “If the Democrats don’t control Congress, they will lose the ability to pass the president’s legislative priorities or their own legislative priorities.”
Deciding who has the majority is up to midterm voters, even though these elections have historically had lower participation numbers when you compare them to presidential races.
“Presidential election campaigns are much more prominent,” Ramanathan said.
But new numbers indicate midterm voting participation may be increasing. According to the U.S Census Bureau, the November 2018 midterms had the highest national voter turnout in the last 40 years.
Now, researchers are waiting to see what participation numbers will look like for 2022.
“Predicting who’s going to vote and who might not vote is, is especially an uncertain game right now because of the unprecedented levels of engagement that we saw in 2018, especially relative to other midterm elections,” Ramanthan said. “We just don’t know if that’s a fundamental change, or if that’s an unusual exception.”
But one thing is certain.
“During midterm elections, you elect people who are going to serve as your state representative. People who are going to serve as your state senator. You get to elect the governor,” said Stevie Valles, Chicago Votes. “So there’s a bunch of people who have a significant amount of power over your day-to-day lived experience. They’re going to be put in the office no matter what the difference is, whether or not your voice is going to be heard.”
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November 4, 2022 at 02:29PM