LOS ANGELES - Holidays have always been stressful and with the 2022 midterms arriving on Nov. 8, there’s gonna be a little bit more to argue about at the dinner table during family gatherings.
There’s a lot at stake during the 2022 midterm elections. Both chambers of Congress and dozens of governorships and state offices are up for grabs, effectively putting the direction of the country at a crossroads.
While the Democrats currently control Washington, they are on the defensive for the midterms. They have been sculpting a 2022 legislative agenda that would generate achievements and reassure voters that they’re addressing pocketbook problems and can govern competently.
However, if you listen to any two candidates or ballot measures, it’s almost like Americans are split between separate realities. For many, it might be like any other day to participate in one’s civic duty, but for some, voting day might bring a bit of anxiety.
First things first — Relax and take a deep breath
Remember when masked vigilantes showed up at ballot locations with guns during the 2020 presidential election? A sheriff in Arizona remembers.
The sheriff in metropolitan Phoenix said Monday he’s stepped up security around ballot drop boxes after a series of incidents involving people keeping watch on the boxes and taking video of voters after they were apparently inspired by lies about the 2020 election.
Last week, deputies responded when two masked people carrying guns and wearing bulletproof vests showed up at a drop box in Mesa, a Phoenix suburb. The secretary of state said her office has received six cases of potential voter intimidation to the state attorney general and the U.S. Department of Justice, as well as a threatening email sent to the state elections director.
Politics is a stressor for many because the results have real-life consequences, although not always immediate. As a citizen of the United States, figuring out how to address these issues through voting can be particularly stressful and cause anxiety.
That’s why it’s important to go to your local voting booth with a calm mind and open heart.
One way to reduce stress and anxiety during election season is to take breaks from your phone, laptop and other electronics that give you access to current events.
"I think one helpful approach to our relationship with our phones and social media, in general, is to have a goal for what is it that you want to get out of this interaction that you’re having with it, how long do you want to spend with it in this interaction and then go do that for that amount of time and then step away from it," Tania Israel, professor of counseling psychology at U.C. Santa Barbara advised.
If you’re a voter in Los Angeles, Headspace, the mindfulness and meditation app is offering its services for free.
Know who you’re voting for ahead of time
The great Willie Nelson once said "If you don't like who's in there, vote 'em out." It's important to do your due diligence before showing up to your local polling location.
Even before you being to pick the candidates and issues you want to vote for, you should know the races and ballot measures on which you’ll be voting. One way to do this is by entering your address into sample ballot generators which can be found at Vote411 or Ballotpedia,
Stay hydrated, eat well, maybe pack a sandwich
It should be common sense. There are usually long lines at voting locations, yet in some states the presence of food and water is complicated.
Voters in Georgia, Texas and some other states are facing new hurdles to casting a ballot during the midterm elections under laws passed by Republican-led legislatures following President Donald Trump’s false claims that voter fraud cost him reelection in 2020.
This has prompted thousands of activists to ensure voters aren't disenfranchised by a slew of these voting restrictions passed by the Republican-led Legislature. They include a ban on giving food and drinks to waiting voters.
One 98-page Georgia bill contained dozens of changes to state voting law. They include shortening the time to request a mail ballot, rolling back the pandemic-driven expansion of ballot drop boxes and reducing early voting before runoff elections.
The state had argued that the water and refreshment ban was necessary to protect against the potential for illegal campaigning or vote-buying. State lawyers also argued that it was too close to the upcoming election to make changes.
"Again, we’re not telling anybody who to vote for," one activist told The Associated Press. "We’re offering water because you have been in line eight hours."
Voting day do’s and dont’s
Like the Georgia water ban, every state has its own rules for voting day. 16 states prohibit campaign apparel/buttons/stickers/placards, 9 states prohibit loitering and only 10 states prohibit voter intimidation/interfering with voters.
Did you know, in Indiana, "wearing or displaying an article of clothing, sign, button, or placard that states the name of any political party or includes the name, picture, photograph, or other likeness of any currently elected federal, state, county, or local official," is prohibited? That’s according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.
LINK: To learn more about voting restrictions in each state visit the National Conference of State Legislatures website.
What about taking photos? Maybe you want to snap a selfie to express pride in participating in Democracy. However, not all states are the same.
Here’s where ballot selfies are legal:
Alabama, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Hawaii, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.
Where ballot selfies are illegal:
Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas and West Virginia.
The remaining states have laws around photography at ballot locations that are somewhat unclear. For example, in Wisconsin, Michael Haas of the state election commission told CNN in 2018 yes, you may take a selfie, but workers may ask you to stop if you are creating a distraction. They also really suggest you don’t post a selfie with your marked ballot. You won’t get in trouble, but it will raise questions as to whether someone paid you to do so.
In Pennsylvania, each county has its own rules for photography.
Your general rights on Election Day
- If the polls close while you’re still in line, stay in line – you have the right to vote.
- If you make a mistake on your ballot, ask for a new one.
- If the machines are down at your polling place, ask for a paper ballot.
- If you run into any problems or have questions on Election Day, call the Election Protection Hotline: English: 1-866-OUR-VOTE / 1-866-687-8683 Spanish: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA / 1-888-839-8682 Arabic: 1-844-YALLA-US / 1-844-925-5287 For Bengali, Cantonese, Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, or Vietnamese: 1-888-274-8683
- English: 1-866-OUR-VOTE / 1-866-687-8683
- Spanish: 1-888-VE-Y-VOTA / 1-888-839-8682
- Arabic: 1-844-YALLA-US / 1-844-925-5287
- For Bengali, Cantonese, Hindi, Urdu, Korean, Mandarin, Tagalog, or Vietnamese: 1-888-274-8683
On its website, the ACLU lists a series of scenarios and complications and how to deal with them.