The importance of voting with Sharon McMahon of @sharonsaysso

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A Q&A between Baihly Warfield and “America’s Government Teacher” Sharon McMahon of the @sharonsaysso Instagram account:

Baihly: “I think a lot of people hear this term, the midterm elections, and maybe we don’t do a very good job of explaining what that means sometimes. So what are the midterm elections? And what are the implications for what’s on the ballot in a midterm election?”

Sharon: “So the midterm elections, that is a term that is used to describe national elections that are held at the midpoint of someone’s presidency. So midterm refers to a presidential term. So that’s what 2022 is, and one of the biggest implications for it is that the entire House of Representatives is up for re-election. They are up for re-election every two years. And one-third of the Senate is up for re-election. And one of the most consequential aspects of these midterms is control of Congress, control of the House, control of the Senate. Of course, both parties want to maintain control – or in the case of the Republicans, they want to gain control. And the Democrats want to hang on to control. And so at a national level, that is one of the biggest stakes is control of Congress.”

Baihly: “OK. So how do you suggest people find out what is on their ballot?”

Sharon: “That’s a great question because it’s good to feel prepared when you go in to the ballot box, when you go in to vote. You want to know exactly what you’re voting on and not just randomly take a guess or feel like, ‘Oh, shoot, I didn’t realize that’s what I was voting for when I said yes.’ So I really like going to one of two websites. One, the Minnesota Secretary of State has a great website that has all of the ballots on them. You can just literally Google, ‘Minnesota Secretary of State voting information.’ Or if it’s easier for you to remember, you can go to a website called Like encyclopedia, except for ballots. And it will show you exactly what will be on your ballot. You enter your address, and so you’ll be able to see your exact local candidates. And it also has lots of clickable information. Let’s say you have two candidates running against each other, you can then from there click on their websites, click on some of their voting history. It is a very, very valuable nonpartisan resource to help you make educated voting decisions.”

Baihly: “That’s great. And why is it so important to vote in an election like this one coming up?”

Sharon: “Here’s one of the biggest reasons: Of course we all know, like yeah, we should vote. Most people feel this sense of like, yeah, we should vote. But here’s one of my main motivations: I don’t want to tell the public, ‘Go ahead and make this decision for me,’ just like I would not let the public choose which house I live in or which job I would take. I would never just relinquish that to the public and say, ‘Go ahead and decide on my behalf.’ I want to choose what kind of job I want and where I want to live. And I don’t feel like I should relinquish control of who represents me and my interests to random strangers. Random strangers don’t know what I need. They don’t know what I believe. They don’t know what’s important to me. And it is my opportunity and your opportunity to send a message with your vote. Even if your candidate doesn’t win, you’ve sent a message with your vote. Every vote means something. It is a vote for or against something. And I think it’s important to maintain control of that for yourself and not send that job to strangers.”

Baihly: “So what do you say to someone who feels like thousands, hundreds of thousands of people vote in my election. Why is my one vote – why does that matter?”

Sharon: “One of the places that there is a very consequential Senate election is Wisconsin. And it is a very tight race. It is going to come down to a small number of votes. Wisconsin also has a strong history of close races. In both Minnesota and Wisconsin, whether you show up to vote matters.”

For more midterm election resources from WDIO, click here.