When it comes to voting in midterm elections, the amount of information being disseminated surrounding issues and candidates is overwhelming. Most of us know the gist of the most-discussed topics, but the finer details of what’s at stake remain elusive. To really understand who is running and what the issues are takes some good old studying up.

Now more than ever, we must exercise our right to vote and put our voice toward the outdoors. Midterm elections are on Nov. 6, and in the past have notoriously suffered from low voter turnout, with less than half of eligible voters casting their ballots in 2014. Only 21.3 percent of voters ages 18-29 years old voted in the last midterm election.

Often, much of the hesitation in voting is rooted in being overwhelmed by the process of sifting through seemingly insurmountable information (and misinformation) to properly educate ourselves on what we’re voting for.

In an effort to help bridge the gap between us and voting, we’ve created an outline to provide you with the basics of what you’re voting for during midterms, as well as a few tools to make learning about what’s on your ballot (and how to vote for the outdoors) easier.

Get out there and make your voice heard. You’ll feel good. Photo: Elliott Stallion/Unsplash

What Are We Voting for in Midterm Elections?

On a national level, we’re voting for members of Congress. All of the seats in the House of Representatives (435) are up, and a little over one-third of the seats in the Senate (35) are up.

On a state and local level, we’re voting for a variety of positions including state governors (36 seats are up across the U.S), attorneys general, state senators, treasurers, city council members, city mayors, judges and more.

What you are voting for on a state and local level can be found on your ballot.
You can find a guide to your local ballot, as well as your polling place location at BallotReady’s website.

"Let us dare to read, think, speak and write." John Adams. Photo: Unsplash

How Can I Better Understand the Candidates and Measures on My Ballot?

Items on the ballot can often be confusing. Here are two sites that organize your ballot so that it's more digestible, easier to navigate, and allow you to find more info about the listed candidates and measures.

Ballotpedia is a nonpartisan site that provides objective, comprehensive election information for the largest 100 cities by population, as well as all state legislative, statewide, and congressional races across the nation.

Vote411.org, the “one-stop shop” launched by the League of Women Voters Education Fund, provides both general and state-specific nonpartisan information on all aspects of the election process. You can learn more about candidates’ responses to key issues and compare their positions side-by-side, as well as view personalized information about local races and initiatives nationwide.

Midterms matter. Go vote! Photo: Stephen Leonardi / Unsplash

How Can I Vote for the Outdoors?

The League of Conservation Voters works hard to enact policies and support candidates that defend our environment, whether it's protecting our public lands, keeping our water clean, passing clean energy solutions or holding legislators accountable. Their site clearly lists the candidates they have chosen to endorse based on his or her efforts to protect the environment, as well as candidates that made their 'Dirty Dozen' list featuring candidates, regardless of party affiliation, who have shown to side against the environment.

The Outdoor Industry Association is an organization whose goal is to work toward achieving meaningful change in recreation and trade policy, as well as sustainable business innovation. Their voter’s guide lists which candidates they support and why and breaks down watch-worthy races.

The Sierra Club, a nonprofit organization that prides itself on exploring, promoting, and protecting the environment, has created a simple voter’s guide that lists endorsed candidates at both national and local levels. Type in your voting address to see a list of candidates The Sierra Club supports specific to your ballot.

The Trust for Public Land has worked to protect over 3 million acres of public land in the United States and completed over 5,400 park and conservation projects. Their site provides more extensive details on upcoming conservation measures on ballots across the country.

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