Why 2018 Is The Year You Need To Vote More Than Ever

by Morgan Brinlee
George Frey/Getty Images News/Getty Images

It's often said that showing up is half the battle. This seems to be true for a lot of things, like doing that 6 a.m. workout or getting out of the house to those 9 p.m. drink plans when you're already cozy watching Netflix. The same can also be said about voting. In fact, I'd argue that a failure to show up at the polls can have some drastic consequences down the road. Even though there won't be a presidential election, there are several reasons why 2018 is the year you need to vote.

Voter turnout in America is never very high — only about 58 percent of eligible voters actually cast ballots in the 2016 presidential election — and midterm elections like the one coming up in 2018 often have significantly lower turnout than presidential elections. But these midterm elections are no less important. As the first major elections held since President Trump took office in January, these midterms are the nation's first opportunity to hold a mass referendum on the Trump administration, making it all the more important to show up in November and have your vote counted.

Scott Olson/Getty Images News/Getty Images

The 2018 midterm elections also offer the perfect opportunity to shake up Congress and make a statement about the legislators who you feel aren't representing your values or interests. That makes at least 469 reasons to turn out and vote, even if the 2016 presidential election left you feeling distressed or like your voice went unheard. A total of 34 Senate seats and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives will be up for grabs when voters head to the polls on Nov. 6, 2018. That means every eligible voter in every Congressional district can make their voice heard through their vote next year.

Given the hefty role Congress plays in the nation's government, there's a lot at stake in the forthcoming midterm elections. Republicans currently hold a majority in both houses of Congress, including a super-slim 51-49 majority in the Senate thanks to Democrat Doug Jones' victory earlier this month in a special election in Alabama. Republicans need to gain nine more seats to hit the filibuster-proof 60-seat threshold that would enable them to pass legislation without Democratic support. Democrats, on the other hand, need to gain just three seats to take control of the Senate from Republicans (note that's the amount of seats needed to take back the majority, not to pass legislation without any Republican support).

Historically, the president's party takes something of a hit in the first midterm elections that follow their entry to the White House. That means Republicans may be staring down a few key losses next year. And if Democrats retake the majority in either chamber of Congress in 2018, they'll be in a better position to either block or put their own stamp on legislation President Trump may attempt to push through Congress.

However, the Democrats do face significant obstacles to retaking the House and Senate. To flip the House, Democrats would need to take no less than 24 currently Republican-held seats. In the Senate, they'll need to defend a whopping 25 seats of their own — compared to the eight Republicans will be defending — while vying to pick up the three seats they need to win the majority. On top of that, 10 of the seats Democrats need to defend are in states Trump won during the 2016 election. So President Trump's low approval rating may not be enough to win the party the votes it needs to get control of Congress — especially if turnout in the midterms is low.

Congressional seats won't be the only elected offices the midterm elections will impact, however. A number of races for governor, state legislative seats and local elected offices will also come up on ballots across the country. At this state level, who wins, and where, in 2018 could end up having some long-lasting affects because of the redistricting process that is expected to play out in 2020. As Vox pointed out earlier this month, "many of the state politicians who will be in office for that redistricting will have been elected to four-year terms in 2018."

Given the number of critical legislative issues expected to come up in the next few years, it's important to get out and vote in 2018. The protection of women's and civil rights depends not only on showing up at protests and marches, but also on showing up at the ballot box — even when the presidency isn't on the line. If you're not registered to vote already, here's how you can do so right here, right now.