photo: Revelist / Emerald

As Americans, we're fortunate enough to live in a country with a democracy, as imperfect as it is. We get to elect our leaders at every level, which most people around the world don't get to do. 

Thousands of people have died throughout history so that we are able to make choices about our communities and countries. Every time you cast a ballot you honor those lives lost, those who have fought in the past, but also those in the future. When we vote, we vote to ensure a better future for ourselves and for generations to come. 

Because our democracy is imperfect, it can be difficult to navigate. In fact, it is often made difficult on purpose. Certain parties and politicians benefit from low voter turnout. 

So if you think for one second that your vote doesn't matter, then you must ask why politicians go through such great lengths to stop you from casting that ballot. 

Here's how to vote!

Voting is cool, spread the word! Studies show that when people think no one is going to vote, they won't vote. But if people are convinced voting is all the rage, turnout increases. The more open you are about voting in person and on social media, the more others will vote too. So bring a friend to your polling place.

photo: Revelist / Emerald Pellot

You can register to vote at USA.gov

photo: Revelist / Emerald Pellot

No, you do not have to be affiliated with any party, like the Democratic Party or the Republican Party for example, in order to vote in a federal election. 

photo: Revelist / Emerald Pellot

But, when are the midterm elections? 

photo: Revelist / Emerald Pellot

When is the deadline to register for the midterm elections? 

photo: Revelist / Emerald Pellot

What if you're not going to be around on voting day? You can vote via absentee ballot. That means you send your ballot in by mail. Most states have a deadline to request an absentee ballot. Voting absentee is typically the way college students who go away for school or those serving in the military vote. But the only explanation you need to provide is that you won't be around on Election Day. 

photo: Revelist / Emerald Pellot

So now that you're registered, where do you even go to vote? You can find your local polling place by submitting the address where you are registered to vote at RockTheVote.org.

photo: Revelist / Emerald Pellot

Does my vote even make a difference? Yes, your vote matters. In a 2017 Virginia election, Republican David Yancey and Democrat Shelly Simmonds each received 11,608 votes. The winner was decided by drawing a name. Yancey won, and the single seat gave Republicans control of the House of Delegates. Your vote matters, every time.

photo: Revelist / Emerald Pellot

Considering everything women and people of color have been through to merely ensure their right to vote was enforced by law, we owe it to those American heroes, sung and unsung, to fulfill our civic duty. 

photo: Revelist / Emerald Pellot

In fact, in 2013, the Supreme Court overturned key parts of the Voting Rights Act, which protected those very rights. Its reasoning: America isn't racist anymore. Since then, 36 counties in Texas alone have violated the Voting Rights Act, according to the ACLU. These violations disproportionately effect people of color. So before you vote, please visit Spread The Vote, an organization that makes sure voters have their IDs and documentation in order. 

photo: Revelist / Emerald

But what exactly am I voting for during the midterm elections? 

photo: Revelist / Emerald Pellot
photo: Revelist / Emerald Pellot

Are there resources that will help me figure out who I should vote for? 

If you have any issues at your polling place on Election Day, please call the Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE. That’s 1-866-687-8683.

photo: Revelist / Emerald

So get out there and go vote, kiddo. You got this!

photo: Revelist / Emerald