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US voters head to the polls to cast ballots – as it happened

That’s it from me today!

Thank you for reading on several midterm election races happening across the country. Here’s a summary of everything that happened:

  • For Democrats, Tuesday’s midterm election races could mean losing control of Congress. Several closely watched Senate races could determine the outcome of which party will control Congress for the rest of Joe Biden’s first term in office.

  • John Kerry, the US climate envoy, has vowed that Joe Biden’s administration will press ahead on climate action regardless of the outcome of today’s midterm elections, which are expected to go badly for Democrats. Kerry delivered that promise while speaking at the Cop27 climate talks in Egypt.

  • The Guardian caught up with a number of voters across several key states, including Michigan, Georgia, and Pennsylvania. Many spoke about a number of issues that were motivating them to cast a ballot today, including the state of democracy and abortion access in the US.

  • The first set of exit polling from CNN spells dismal results for Democrats, as a majority of the US electorate is angry and dissatisfied with the state of the country.

  • GOP lawsuits challenging voter rules have caused hold ups in some districts, including Philadelphia, as election judges are now required to go through an extra checking process to monitor for double voting, a process that could take three days. Another lawsuit caused mail-in ballots in Philadelphia that have inaccurate or missing dates to be rejected, causing thousands to show up and recast their ballots.

  • The Florida state department sent a letter to the US Department of Justice saying that federal election monitors won’t be permitted inside the state’s polling places. The letter comes as several key races are happening in Florida, including the election for Florida governor.

  • Donald Trump cast a ballot at a polling place in Palm Beach, Florida. Trump gave some brief comments to media waiting outside the polling place, and confirmed that he voted for incumbent governor Ron DeSantis.

You can follow this blog, which will update as polling places across the country begin to close.

If you’re in line to vote, stay there!

Have a great night and happy election day, everyone!

John Kerry, the US climate envoy, has vowed that Joe Biden’s administration will press ahead on climate action regardless of the outcome of today’s midterm elections, which are expected to go badly for Democrats.

Kerry, speaking at the Cop27 climate talks in Egypt, said that he hoped there would be a Congress would act on the climate crisis but “even if we don’t, folks, president Biden is more determined than ever to continue what we are doing.”

“Most of what we are doing cannot be changed by anyone else coming along,” Kerry added, noting that cities and states across America banded together to commit to the Paris climate agreement when Donald Trump removed the US from the pact when president.

US officials in Egypt hope that the inflation reduction act bill passed in August, which contains more than $370bn in climate spending and called “one of the single most important pieces of legislation over the past 50 years or so” by Kerry in his speech, will drive deep cuts in emissions regardless of the midterms.

But Kerry conceded it was possible that Republicans could “launch an assault” on Biden’s climate agenda if they win at least one house of Congress in the elections. The GOP has decried what it calls Biden’s “radical green agenda” and could stall or hamper the rollout of measures aimed at boosting renewable energy deployment. Biden arrives at Cop27 on Friday, potentially in a downcast mood following the outcome of the elections.

The Guardian’s Abené Clayton, reporting on the California gubernatorial race from Los Angeles

It may have been one of the least anxiety-inducing midterm races in the nation. California governor Gavin Newsom is expected to cruise to re-election and easily beat Republican state senator Brian Dahle to serve his second term at the helm of the US’ most populous state.

Last year, Newsom survived a recall attempt driven by critics of his handling of the pandemic. This year, with re-election in deep blue California all but secure, he took his message to the national stage, spending millions of dollars on ads addressing issues like gun control and abortion rights in states including Mississippi and Texas.

Newsom’s national effort has sparked speculation among political analysts and officials he’s considering a run for president — a rumor Newsom has consistently denied.

But as my colleague Maanvi Singh wrote a few weeks ago: “Denial is the tradition of pretty much every politician who has flirted with chief executive ambitions.”

More reporting on voting in Michigan, from the Guardian’s Sam Levine

Taylor Morgan, 26, cast her vote Tuesday just a few blocks from the main campus of the University of Michigan, in Ann Arbor. A driving force getting her to the polls is Proposal 3, an effort to enshrine abortion protections in the Michigan constitution.

“Reproductive rights and reproductive freedom are super important to me as a Black woman in Michigan,” she said just before she cast her ballot. “I just want to make sure that those rights are maintained. I feel like if that’s not something that you believe in or support, you have that right. But you don’t have the right to tell the people what they can do with their bodies.”

Taylor Morgan, a 26-year old medical student at the University of Michigan, said she was motivated to come out and vote today in support of Proposal 3. “Reproductive rights and reproductive freedom are super important to me as a Black woman in Michigan,” she said pic.twitter.com/Z6TdYUvvKU

— Sam Levine (@srl) November 8, 2022

Morgan said she’s concerned about efforts to overturn the election, but hopes that the margin will be so wide, any efforts will quickly fall apart.

“My hope is that a lot of people turn out so everything is indisputable,” said Morgan, a medical student.

Abby Anderson, a senior at the University of Michigan studying performance art management, said she also was motivated by the abortion proposal.

“I’m very pro-choice. It’s a cause that I care a lot about. Particular since I’m not from Michigan, and I could have chosen to vote in the state that I’m from, but I felt that my vote had more of an impact here because it’s more of a swing,” she said.

There’s some concern about potentially low turnout from young voters, but both Morgan and Anderson said they thought young people would vote in high numbers. Some of her professor had even said it’s OK if students couldn’t make it to class on Tuesday because they needed to vote, Anderson said.

“I’m young and a lot of my friends, they’re very adamant about coming out to vote,” she said.

“It seems like a lot of people are lining up to go to the on campus polling places. I feel like young people are starting to realize what they stand for and what they don’t stand for. So you’re gonna see a lot of young people coming out in droves to make their voices heard. At least that’s what it looks like to me,” Morgan said.

CNN has published its first set of exit polls.

The poll readings spell fairly dismal news for Democrats ahead of midterm election results, with polls showing that the majority of the American electorate are angry with the state of the country under Biden’s presidency.

Breaking: CNN US Midterm Election exit poll makes grim reading for Joe Biden.

• 73% of voters are dissatisfied or angry about the way things are going

• 46% say Biden’s policies are hurting the country

• 54% disapprove of Biden as President

• 32% used vote to oppose Biden pic.twitter.com/Wz0lYUds0P

— Jamie Johnson (@JamieoJohnson) November 8, 2022

While all eyes are on New York’s gubernatorial race, the outcome of New York’s 21st Congressional District contest might speak to the staying power of MAGA-style politics—or whether voters have grown weary of Trump’s inflammatory politics. Republican incumbent Elise Stefanik is running against Democrat Matt Castelli, a former CIA officer who served on the national security council.

Stefanik became the No. 3 House Republican after Liz Cheney was kicked out of the role of conference chair amid the Wyoming congresswoman’s ongoing criticism of Trump. While Stefanik was a moderate when she entered the House in 2015, the congress member has increasingly moved right.

Some consider Stefanik to be a potential 2024 vice-presidential candidate. Not everyone in Stefanik’s district is enthused by her political ascent—including her statements relating to baseless claims that there were sweeping “irregularities” in the previous national election, per CNN.

Jennifer Mann, a Castelli campaign volunteer and chair of the Brunswick, New York Democratic Committee, decried Stefanik’s statements about the 2020 election. “She does not support democracy. She voted against supporting the results of the election even though she knew— she had information—there was no fraud. I find that terrifying.”

Mann, who cast her ballot early, said that many in the district are worried about affordable healthcare and prescription drugs; Stefanik, she said, “voted against their interests every single time.” Like many other voters, Mann voiced frustration over polarization, saying: “I’m tired of the parisian politics.”

As for the governor’s race, Mann said: “Hochul is not my ideal candidate, I’m not going to lie. She is at least somebody who will support the democratic process.”

“She will make sure that women’s rights are guaranteed for us—not having the government take it from us,” Mann said. Stefanik was among the some 80 Republicans supporting national legislation that would prohibit most abortions after 15 weeks. “That’s another thing I really dislike about Stefanik: She wants to take away states’ rights by sponsoring this nationwide abortion ban.”

In New York, the Democratic governor, Kathy Hochul, and Republican challenger Lee Zeldin are making their last-minute pitches to voters in the gubernatorial race. While the Cook Political Report predicts that the governor’s race will “likely” be for Democrats, her lead over Zeldin has slimmed dramatically—from a double-digit margin to just four points over the course of several weeks, according to CNBC.

“This city is back and I want to lead this state into the next four years and possibly beyond with a sense of optimism we have not had here in a long time,” Hochul said during a campaign stop on Manhattan’s Upper East Side Tuesday, according to the New York Post. “That will start first thing tomorrow morning.”

Zeldin, who like most Republicans across the US has made crime a key tenet of his platform, tried to hammer Hochul on public safety during a campaign stop at the Nassau County, Long Island Republican headquarters. “If you go and ask a lot of Democrats who are inside of New York City who are fed up, they don’t want to be told that the crime in the subway is just a perception. They should just look away, there’s nothing to see here,” the Post quoted Zeldin as saying.

Democrats outside of New York have taken notice of Zeldin’s rise in the polls and appear to be considering him a serious threat. President Joe Biden appeared alongside Hochul on Sunday to encourage voters to cast their ballots in what has become an unexpectedly tight race. “New York, you have two days to make sure the rest of New York knows the good that they have in Kathy Hochul,” Biden said, according to Politico. “Two days until the most important election in our lifetime.”

Philadelphia voters have encountered some issues while trying to cast their votes, both mail in ballots and in-person votes on Tuesday.

Thousands of mail-in ballots were recast in the Brotherly Love city following a ruling on a GOP lawsuit that invalidated mail-in ballots that had missing or inaccurate dates.

The decision, made last Tuesday, launched a mass volunteer effort in the city on Monday night to alert those impacted about their ballots.

On Tuesday, election officials were also mandated to check for double voting, thanks to a separate GOP lawsuit. The checking process could take several days and slow down the vote count process.

From the Washington Post:

The process, known as “poll book reconciliation,” is a way to prevent double voting that Philadelphia implemented in 2020 amid a dramatic expansion of mail ballots in the state. It requires that election workers interrupt ballot counting to scan poll books so that the lists of voters who returned mail ballots can be compared to those who voted in-person. The process generally takes three days, court records show.

Here’s some helpful context for Tuesday’s midterm elections and what it could mean for Democrats’ control of Congress, from the Guardian’s Chris McGreal and Joan E Greve

The Biden administration was braced for a bad night on Tuesday as the US midterm election results threatened to rob the Democrats of control of Congress, just as former president Donald Trump appears ready to announce another run for the White House.

But the Democrats were holding out hope that they might just retain control of the US Senate if a handful of closely fought races fell their way.

The final results, which will determine control of Congress for the remainder of Biden’s first term as president and further constrain his legislative agenda, could take days or even weeks in some closely fought Senate races. Delayed results are likely to fuel legal challenges and conspiracy theories about vote-rigging, particularly if the remaining seats determine control of the Senate.

The ground was already being laid in Pennsylvania, where a close US Senate race is being fought between Mehmet Oz, a Trump-backed Republican, and Democrat John Fetterman, who has been battling to assure voters he is fit for office after a stroke. Earlier on election day on Tuesday, the agency overseeing the voting in Philadelphia said it will delay counting thousands of paper ballots because of a Republican lawsuit that said the process was open to duplicate voting.

Dozens of Republican candidates for the Senate, the House of Representatives and other major offices have refused to confirm that they will accept the result if they lose amid a swirl of false claims of fraud, stemming from Trump’s assertion that the 2020 presidential election was stolen from him and kept alive by the Republican party leadership.

Read the full article here.

More reporting on Californians voting on Proposition 30, from the Guardian’s Maanvi Singh

Californians are voting today on a ballot measure that would tax the state’s richest residents in an effort to get more electric vehicles on the road.

The measure, Proposition 30, would hike taxes by 1.75% on those earning $2m or more annually to raise between $3bn and $5bn annually to subsidize households, businesses and schools; buy zero-emission cars, trucks and buses; fund infrastructure to charge electric vehicles; and bolster wildfire prevention efforts.

Proponents of the measure, including the coalition of environmental and labor groups that developed it, say the tax would provide urgently needed funds to hasten the transition to zero-emission vehicles, and reduce the disproportionate burden of pollution on low-income, minority communities across the state.

Detractors, including the California governor, Gavin Newsom, claim the proposal is a corporate carve-out for Lyft, the ride-hailing company that has backed the measure and helped fund its campaign.

Read more about Proposition 30 and the fraught battle over it here:

The latest on Los Angeles’ mayoral race, from the Guardian’s Lois Beckett

By the time Los Angeles residents headed to polls on Tuesday, mayoral hopeful and billionaire real estate developer Rick Caruso had poured more than $100m of his own fortune into his campaign to become the city’s next leader.

Caruso, who’s battling Congresswoman Karen Bass in a closely contested race, has backed his own campaign with $101m as of late last week, campaign ethics filing show, outspending his opponent by more than 10 to one.

The developer, who is running a pro-police, tough-on-crime campaign, came in second to Bass, a former community organizer and leader of the Congressional Black Caucus, in the city’s June primary.

But Bass’ strong lead over Caruso in recent weeks evaporated, according to a recent poll of likely voters, with her 45% to 41% lead over Caruso within the poll’s margin of error.

Caruso, who has an estimated net worth of $5.3bn, is nearing a mayoral campaign record set by billionaire Mike Bloomberg, who spent $109m of his own money to win his third term as mayor of New York City in 2009.

Total political spending of more than $120m on a mayoral race is a striking sum, especially for a contest in which the key issue is LA’s homelessness. There are at least 41,000 unhoused people in Los Angeles county, many of them unsheltered, and living, in tents, cars, RVs and makeshift structures.

Bass has repeatedly attacked Caruso’s campaign spending, saying that if she had $90m or $100m to spend, she would spend it on affordable housing.

Rick Caruso has spent $90 million lying about himself and lying about me.

I was just asked if I had $90 million, what I would do with it.

The answer is simple: I would build housing for thousands of people who sleep on our streets every night. Right away. Without hesitation.

— Karen Bass (@KarenBassLA) November 1, 2022

Concerns over the spread of misinformation and disinformation on social media platforms are a recurring theme of each election but with the recent mass layoffs at Twitter following Elon Musk’s acquisition of the platform civil liberties groups are particularly on high alert.

The company laid off a reported 50% of the workforce or an estimated 3,700 workers last week just days before the midterms. Twitter’s head of safety and integrity, Yoel Roth said that layoffs affected 15% of the company’s trust and safety team which is charged with moderating content including combating misinformation. That has the leaders of civil liberties groups such as Color of Change, Free Press and the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, who met with Musk to discuss how Twitter will deal with hate speech, convinced that the company will not be sufficiently staffed to handle attempts to mislead voters today.

“Retaining and enforcing election-integrity measures requires an investment in the human expert staff, factcheckers, and moderators, who are being shown the door today,” said Jessica J González, co-CEO of Free Press.

While it’s still early in the day, months-old viral videos and tweets falsely claiming Republicans were being barred from the polls have already been recirculated today, according to the Washington Post.

This post was originally published on this site

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