Happening Now! Congressional Primaries - Check Your Primary Election Schedule

Why Your Vote Matters for Congressional Primaries - Make it Count!

Let's think of spring this year as a fresh start for our democracy. Primary elections have just begun and the pace is about to pick up. Over the next several months, voters in each state will decide which political candidates will be running for Congress in the November 2022 congressional midterm election. [Check the Primary Election Schedule]

As a republic, the states enjoy much power when setting rules of their elections and there are variations. Here are the basics:
 
What’s a primary election anyway?

Think of primaries as a way to narrow down the field of candidates to those who will ultimately appear on the ballot in the general election.

A primary election permits voters to decide which candidates for office will become the parties’ nominees in an upcoming general election. That means, over the coming months, voters across the country will vote in the primary election to determine their nominees for the 2022 midterm general election, held this year on Nov. 8th. During primary elections, we collectively winnow down pools of candidates, the winners of which are voted on for office in the general election. 

What's at stake in the general election: All 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, 35 of 100 seats in the U.S. Senate, plus handfuls of other state offices and ballot measures.  For example, in the recent Texas primary election, voters selected which candidates for state governor, from each party, will be up for election at the 2022 midterm.

Who can vote in a primary election?
A primary election is an election like any other. Whether you vote locally, vote from abroad, or are in the military - you can vote in the primaries. You can vote at the polling place, vote early or request an absentee ballot, per your state's guidelines.

You just need to be aware that each state sets the rules for its own primary election. Some primaries are open, meaning any (usually registered) citizen may vote for any party’s candidate, even if that voter is affiliated with a different party or no party at all.  Some other states hold closed primaries, meaning only citizens who are registered with the party may vote in that election. Still others hold hybrid primaries (which partially open or partially closed). Most important is to register to vote and be sure that your party affiliation is clear. If you want to change parties, re-register. 
 
Why does it matter? Why should I vote in the primary?
Selection of candidates determines a party’s agenda, its character, and how it will govern. How parties conduct themselves, moreover, impacts the very nature of our democracy. If you ever wondered how that person with that set of priorities got elected to Congress, the short answer is “primaries:” those who vote at primaries decide who appears on the ticket at the general election. And those elected at the general election dictate how the state and country are governed, essentially determining our democracy’s course. When you vote in a primary election, you empower yourself, your community, and your country. As a voter, you help decide the agenda at all levels. 
 
Midterm elections are important! It isn’t just the U.S. president who governs our country; he or she does that in coordination with the country’s two other branches: legislative and judicial. At the midterms, you decide who goes to Congress to represent your state’s interests. So you help set the country’s priorities for the next several years when you vote in both the primaries and midterm general elections. 
 
To stay the course of our democracy, we must bust forward from our usual 20% participation in primary elections to a vast majority, consistently. You, the voter, have that power. 

Democracies are often graded by the legitimacy of their elections, and legitimacy in a democracy comes from the people governed. Not some, not a few, but all eligible citizens. At US Vote, we believe that Every Citizen is a Voter and we are here to help you obtain and cast your ballot.

U.S. Vote Foundation, March 2022