Potty Mouth Staff
October 30, 2006
Midterm Elections and the Voting Process
Midterm Elections are approaching quickly, and many students are unaware. Midterm elections are held
in-between presidential elections and select one-third of the 100 members of the US Senate and all 435 mem-
bers of the House of Representatives, as well as many state and local officials (Political Lexicon). States may
also include a ballot to introduce new state legislation. Since voting impacts society directly, it is important that
people vote. However, many college students are not registered, are not informed about the candidates or the
issues being voted on, or do not know how to request an absentee ballot.
Registering to vote is the first step in the voting process. Many students already know, or have a good
idea of what party they might like to register. If students do not know what party stands for the values, ideals,
and legislative action that are most in line with their own, they can use the internet to access party and campaign
websites to find information about each (Rock the Vote). After choosing a political party or deciding to register
as independent, students can register to vote online with organizations, such as:
Rock the Vote (http://www.rockthevote.org)
Declare Yourself (http://www.declareyourself.org)
Go Vote (http://www.govote.org).
Paper registration is another option. The form can be requested online or found at any courthouse.
Citizens must register to vote at least thirty days prior to the election in which he or she intends to vote (Student
Guide to Voting).
Registered voters will then receive a voter registration card that contains their name, address, municipal-
ity, polling place, party, and an identification number (Frequently Asked Questions). This paper will be impor-
tant in identifying the voter when they vote on Election Day. The voter registration card contains information on
where the person is to vote, also called the polling place.
After students are registered, they often become uninvolved in politics and do not stay informed about
the issues and candidates. Nonpartisan websites through organizations such as Project Vote Smart and Fair Vote
offer unbiased information about current candidates, current officials, their political histories, and their opinions
about current issues. This information can help voters make decisions on what is important and which issues are
Making informed decisions about candidates prepares voters for the polls. However, many students and
voters are not in their municipalities for Election Day. In cases like this, voters will need to request an absen-
tee ballot from his or her home state’s Secretary of State or the County Board of Elections. An absentee ballot
is received through the mail, sent back with a copy of an identification card to the Secretary of State, and then
forwarded to the polling place (Absentee Ballot).
Typically, absentee ballots must be requested at least a week before the election. To request an absentee
ballot, you must send an absentee ballot application to your County Board of Elections. Each state’s rules are
different, so be sure to call or look up
the deadline to turn in the application online. Your state’s website will have a link to print out the absentee bal-
lot application, and a place to look up the address to return the ballot (Basic Guide to Student Voting).
If voting at a polling place, the procedures are simple. The voter will be asked his or her name and it
will be checked against the district register or poll book to verify that he or she is registered to vote in that poll-
ing district. The voter will then be asked to sign a voter’s certificate or the poll book to certify that his or her
name and address are correct. Then he or she will be directed to a voting machine to cast a vote Basic Guide to
Student Voting). If the voter has not voted at the polling place before, he or she will be asked for an identifica-
tion card (with or without a picture), in order to verify his or her identification. If a voter is unsure of how to use
a voting machine, most states make the instructions available for all voting machines online, or he or she can
ask at the polling place (Basic Guide to Student Voting).
Voting is an important part of a democracy. Each citizen has the responsibility to participate in the election of
government officials. In order to fully participate it is important that each citizen register to vote, educate them-
selves on the candidates and issues, and then go out and actually vote. By voting, citizens can involve them-
selves in the government and stand up for their ideas and opinions.
“Absentee Ballot.” Wikipedia. 7 Oct. 2006. 15 Oct. 2006 “Absentee Ballot.” Wikipedia. 7 Oct. 2006. 15 Oct.
“Basic Guide to Student Voting in Pennsylvania.” Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, Department of State. 16
Oct. 2006 <http://www.dos.state.pa.us/voting/lib/voting/guide/student_voting_guide_05.pdf>.
“Frequently Asked Questions.” Go Vote! 15 Oct. 2006 <https://www.govote.org/campaigns/govote/faq_
“Political Lexicon.” American Information Web. American Cultural Center Resource Service. 16 Oct. 2006
“Rock the Vote.” Rock the Vote Organization. 15 Oct. 2006 <http://www.rockthevote.com/rtv_register.
“Welcome to Project Vote Smart.” Project Vote Smart. 16 Oct. 2006 <http://www.vote-smart.org/index.htm>.