Why your midterm vote matters

Lena Kerest and Jesse Schumann

In under three weeks, millions of people across the country will head to the polls to vote in the 2022 midterm elections. One-third of the U.S. Senate seats and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives will be decided on Nov. 8, not to mention many gubernatorial races, local elections, and special elections. Although voter turnout is consistently lower in midterm years, these elections are arguably more impactful than presidential elections. The candidates on the ballots this November are the people who truly shape our daily lives. As members of the EphVotes Board, we are writing to convey the importance of voting this fall.

It is easy to become apathetic in the face of looming exams and busy schedules. It is easy to find yourself thinking that your vote doesn’t matter in a state that consistently votes red or blue. You may also feel insulated from national and state politics on our rural campus in Western Massachusetts where the impact of policymakers can feel distant. Our lives, however, will undoubtedly be affected by these newly elected officials. It is crucial for college students to build the habit of voting. Our democracy depends on everyone’s participation; for it to function at its best, college students must vote. According to Tufts University Institute for Democracy and Higher Education, “Students constitute a large enough voting bloc to shape election outcomes and shape the future and health of a participatory, equitable, and informed democracy.” The power to impact election outcomes is in our hands. Do not throw that power away because of inconvenience. 

There have been many recent efforts to stifle minority voters through gerrymandering and restrictive voting laws. We must hold the opportunity to have our voices heard and represented in government sacred. To keep our democracy alive and healthy — and protect our right to vote — we must exercise that right. As President Mandel said in her Oct. 17 email, “Sadly, we are seeing a proliferation of efforts nationwide to undermine the integrity of the voting process and to disenfranchise or deter voters. It is up to each of us, no matter our party affiliation or policy views, to exercise our right to vote and provide a full-throated defense of that same right for all.”

EphVotes, the College’s non-partisan voter outreach organization, is here to help. Our table is in Paresky Center from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday this week to help students register to vote and request their absentee ballots. These processes are not always intuitive, and we want to make sure every eligible student at Williams has the opportunity to cast their vote. Our website (ephvotes.com) provides a pathway for any member of our community — student, faculty, or staff — to get all the information they need to participate in elections.

The clock is ticking. Every day, more state deadlines pass for voter registration and ballot requests. Multiple students have approached our Paresky table to ask for assistance registering to vote, only to realize that the deadline for their state had already passed. But in most states, there is still time to both register and request absentee ballots, and many of us still have the chance to exercise this fundamental right. But, it is each of our responsibility to make it happen. Let’s disprove the narrative that young people don’t vote.

Lena Kerest ’25 is from Shelburne, Vt., and Jesse Schumann ’25 is from Tulsa, Okla.