The Process


Midterm Elections - Congressional

Congressional elections take place every two years. A variety of state and local races happen every year. Learn about upcoming elections near you. Congressional elections determine who represents your state in in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. They also decide which political party will hold a majority in each chamber of Congress for the next two years. 

Congressional elections happen every two years. Voters choose one-third of senators and every member of the House of Representatives.

Midterm elections take place halfway between presidential elections. The congressional elections in November 2022 will be "midterms."

Midterm Elections Include State and Local Elections

State and local elections can take place in any year, at various times throughout the year. There can be statewide elections for governor or state legislature. A city may elect its mayor. There may be elections for judges and local officials. Ballot initiatives may be up for a vote.

U.S. House of Representatives

Members of the U.S. House of Representatives serve two-year terms. All 435 members get elected every midterm and presidential election year. 

A representative must be at least 25, a U.S. citizen for at least seven years, and live in the state he or she represents. The number of representatives a state has depends on its population. Each representative serves a specific congressional district. Find your representative. 

U.S. Senate

Senators serve six-year terms. One-third of senators get elected during each midterm and each presidential election year. 

A senator must be at least 30, a U.S. citizen for at least nine years, and live in the state he or she represents. There are 100 U.S. senators, two from each state. Find your senators.

Voter Guides

Voter guides provide background information on the candidates and ballot measures. They list who you can vote for and offer details on each candidate's experience and goals. They also explain ballot measures, which are specific questions or issues that you can approve or reject.


Sample Ballots

Sample ballots show you the elections and candidates and any ballot measures that will be on your real ballot. But they will not provide information about the candidates like voter guides do. Your state may mail you a sample ballot or let you download one from your state election office website. That sample ballot may look exactly like the real one. 

Some non-profit organizations and political parties produce unofficial sample ballots. These ballots may highlight the candidates that the organization wants you to vote for, and will not look exactly the same as what you will see when you vote.




Write-In Candidates for Federal and State Elections

Besides the names on your ballot, you may be able to write in the names of other candidates. Most states let you write in votes for president, U.S. senator, and U.S. representative. They may also allow write-in votes for the governor and other state offices.  

But writing in a name does not mean that vote will count. Many states require that write-in candidates file paperwork before the election. Otherwise, the state will not count the person's votes.

Check with your state election office to find out the rules for your state. If you check using your state’s election website, enter “write-in candidates” in the search bar.