On Nov. 8, millions of voters will go to the polls to cast their ballot in the 2022 midterm elections.
At stake in this election are 35 U.S. Senate seats, all 435 seats in the U.S. House of Representatives, 36 gubernatorial elections, and thousands of state legislators.
Also at stake nationwide will be 30 state attorney generals and hundreds of ballot referendums, including one in Michigan, which could protect abortion rights for women in the state if passed.
Despite the assumption that most college students do not care about politics, it seems that may be far from the case.
The Washington Post stated that about 66% of registered college students voted in the 2020 election, a sharp increase from the 2016 election.
Eli Ostrow, a third-year student, majoring in public relations, said he intends to vote this year. "I 100% plan on voting in this election," said Ostrow. "However, for which candidates I am not sure yet! I need to see more of their policies as well as stances on current issues before making a decision."
So, if you are interested in voting this year, here is a quick guide to some of the elections to watch for here in Tennessee.
Tennessee's Gubernatorial Election:
Dr. Jason Martin won the Democratic nomination for governor on Aug. 4 after defeating Memphis City Councilman J.B. Smiley, Jr. by just under 1,500 votes.
Martin, a physician from Nashville, has been critical of Tennessee's response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He will face off against Gov. Bill Lee (R-Tenn.), the incumbent governor.
While no polling has been conducted for the race, virtually all political pundits predict that Tennessee's governorship will remain in Republican control.
U.S. House of Representatives:
In the races for the U.S. House in Tennessee, Republicans are expected to gain a seat in Tennessee's 5th Congressional District.
The 5th district was gerrymandered by the Republican-controlled state legislature after Davidson County, heavily Democratic, was split into three Republican districts.
The gerrymander led to the district's longtime Democratic incumbent Rep. Jim Cooper's (D-Nashville.) retirement.
Maury County mayor Andy Ogles (R-Franklin), who won the Republican primary for the district on Aug. 4, is expected to become the first Republican to represent Nashville in the House of Representatives in nearly 150 years.
In Shelby County's two congressional districts, Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Memphis) & Rep. David Kustoff (R-Germantown) are expected to win their respective re-election bids easily.
Barring an upset in the 5th District, Tennessee's congressional delegation in the House will be composed of eight Republican representatives & just one Democratic representative.
Tennessee State Legislature:
In Shelby County, there is one state house district that, while uncontested this year, could become competitive as the decade goes on.
PlanScore.com, a website that scores congressional and state legislative districts based on their fairness, predicts that Tennessee's 97th State House District could be one of eight competitive state house districts in Tennessee as the decade goes on.
In the 97th State House District, represented by Rep. Antonio Parkinson (D-Memphis), a future election could be close if the seat becomes open.
PlanScore predicts that the vote share in the 97th could be 51% to 49% in favor of the Democratic candidate.
If the boundaries for this district had existed during the 2020 election, Joe Biden (D-Del.) would have won this district by 1,870 votes.
These are just some of the races to watch here in Tennessee. However, not all students who attend the University of Memphis live in the state.
So, what should you do if you live out of state and want to vote?
The first thing to do is to register to vote. Every state has a set registration deadline to vote in the upcoming election. The deadline to register to vote in Tennessee is Oct. 11. Voter registration deadlines vary by state, so if you're unsure of your state's deadline, you can find out by checking your state's secretary of state website.
The second thing to do is to apply for an absentee ballot. Most states do not require an excuse for an absentee ballot. However, in 15 states, you must have a valid excuse to apply for an absentee ballot. Six of these 15 states, including Alabama, Kentucky, Louisiana, South Carolina, Tennessee, and West Virginia, allow students living outside their registered county to apply for an absentee ballot.
The third and final step is to research the candidates in your district and their political views to determine which candidate has your vote. ISideWith.com is designed to help voters decide on a candidate by asking questions about your political views and recommending a candidate based on said views.
Early voting begins on Oct. 19 and ends on Nov. 3. Voters can go to any of the twenty-six early voting locations in the county and cast their ballot.
Come Election Day, however, you must vote at the precinct you're assigned.