U.S. Midterm Elections: How Registering To Vote Is A Challenge And Women Could be the Key to Either Party’s Win
A U.S. armed forces personnel voting at a U.S. base (Photo: AF.mil)

The U.S. on November 6 will hold midterm elections to elect members to the House of Representatives and the Senate that make up the US Congress. The vote is being seen as a referendum of sorts on US President Donald Trump’s time in office since he was elected in November 2016.

Elections are being held to elect 435 members to the House of Representatives, and 33 members to the Senate. From 'What Are the Midterm Polls' to 'Who Are Expected to Win' — Top Questions Answered.

Who are the voters?

Traditionally, midterms attract a lower number of voters as compared to Presidential elections. However, the polarised nature of politics in the U.S. in recent years means this trend could see a reversal.

Registered voters who tend to drop off at the midterms tend to be: lower-income, minorities, less educated, younger, or female. That has traditionally been a problem for the Democratic Party, as older, white voters who give a boost to the Republicans continue to participate in midterm elections in strong numbers.

Democrats are hoping their female and millennial supporters will be motivated by anger over the Trump administration's actions to contribute to a surge in support at the polls.

The traditional support base of both parties are expected to show up in force.

How to register to vote in U.S. midterm elections?

Voters need to be at least 18 on or before election day to vote in the midterm elections. On registration, the voter will be assigned a specific polling place or voting location to attend on the day.

According to usa.gov, around half of the states with voter ID laws require photo IDs such as driver’s licenses, state-issued ID cards, military ID cards, and/or passports in order to vote.

Other states accept certain types of non-photo IDs, such as birth certificates, Social Security cards, bank statements, and utility bills.

If voters are registered to vote but will be away from the polling place on Election Day, there's still time to request and send in an absentee ballot. While voter registration deadlines have passed in most states, there's still time to register if you live in Washington, North Carolina, or one of the 16 states, plus the District of Columbia, that allows voters to register on Election Day.

While states all have different requirements for receiving a ballot, most military service members, U.S. citizens living abroad, college students, or people who will otherwise be away from their polling place for another reason, including a disability or religious conflict, are eligible to vote absentee in the November 6 election. Virginia is the only state where voters can apply for an absentee ballot online.

Across the country, Republican governors, secretaries of state, and state lawmakers — some of whom are up for re-election this fall — have been tightening the restrictions on voting in dozens of states citing concerns about voter fraud.

The result is that voters in the states of Georgia, North Dakota, Ohio, Missouri, Kansas, and New Hampshire, among other states, are facing restrictive voter ID laws and purges of voter names from the rolls. A majority of those belonging to the minority community have been impacted due to this. The Democratic Party has accused the Republicans of using this method to ensure lower voter turnout for demographics that could hold the key for their candidates.

Women voters in U.S. mid-term elections

Women in the U.S. got the right to vote in 1920, and they have exercised their franchise more than men since 1980. Women's turnout rate has outstripped men's in every U.S. presidential election since 1980, and in every midterm election since 1986. (In terms of raw numbers, women have outvoted men in every national election since at least 1964. These days, that gap is several million every election year.)

According to an NPR survey, polls show women have swung even more Democratic than usual this year, while men remain nearly evenly split, or leaning slightly Republican. This year's gender gap could be even bigger than those in 2014 and 2016, with women far more Democratic than in either of those years.

So this year could literally be the ‘Year of women.’