US midterm elections 2018: Live updates

US voters go to the polls on Tuesday, to take part in midterm elections that will help define the remaining two years of President Donald Trump’s first term in office.

All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs in the midterms, as well as 35 seats in the Senate, and 39 governorships in 36 states and three US territories. 

Trump’s Republican party currently has a majority in the Senate and House of Representatives, but failure to hold on to either could result in political deadlock for the US leader’s most ambitious policies.

Explaining the US midterms:

According to the latest opinion polls, the Democrats have a good shot at taking the lower house of Congress, but the Republicans are predicted to maintain control of the Senate.

Follow all the major updates:

Tuesday, November 6

Twitter joins efforts to get vote out

Who benefits from high turnout?

This is what Birmingham University academic Scott Lucas told Al Jazeera: 

“Keep an eye on the voter turnout, higher it goes, the more chance of an upset of the polls which will favour the Democrats, especially if it is amongst the youth and women.”

NGOs helped Native Americans in North Dakota get ID

In 2012, Heidi Heitkamp won North Dakota with a majority just shy of 3,000, largely due to the Native American vote.

In the six year since, Republican state legislators have introduced new stricter voter ID rules, which critics say unfairly target the Native American community.

A Supreme Court ruling in October backed the state’s right to require street addresses on IDs instead of post office boxes. Many Native Americans do not live in areas with street addresses, nor can they afford to get new IDs with a street address assigned through the statewide 911 system.

Free programmes have managed to help more than 2,000 voters on four reservations get proper credentials.

For more on voter suppression in the US, read this.

Walkouts begin

Students have started walking out of classes to vote in this year’s midterms. For many who turned 18 after the 2016 US presidential election, the 2018 vote will be their first chance to cast a ballot.

Read our full report here.

Hillary Clinton: ‘Today, we say enough’

Hillary Clinton, who lost the 2016 presidential election to Donald Trump, has issued a powerful call to action in a series of Tweets on Tuesday morning.

The Democrat former Secretary of State accused Trump of undermining “democratic institutions and values” in the US.

“We’ll vote for fantastic candidates all over the country- including a historic number of women- who want to raise wages, fight for justice, and help more people get health care,” Clinton wrote. 

#IVoted trends on US Twitter

The hashtag trends every election and it usually includes selfies of voters outside polling stations and people wearing “I voted” stickers.

Here are some of the more interesting tweets this year:

Fox presenter slammed for joining Trump rally

Fox News receives a lot of criticism for its pro-Trump slant and on the eve of the election, one of it’s star hosts drew a lot of controversy after appearing with Trump at rally in Cape Girardeau, Missouri.

The president called Hannity onto the stage, the Fox News presenter obliged and addressing reporters at the back of the rally, mouthed “fake news”. 

Polls open in Alabama, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, and Wisconsin

Polls have opened in Texas where Democrat Beto O’Rourke is challenging incumbent Republican, Ted Cruz, for a seat on the Senate.

O’Rourke has run a strong campaign, with some polls putting him even with Cruz in the deeply red state, but election prediction site FiveThreeEigh give Cruz the advantage.

Texas will be an interesting test of how increased voter turnout affects the final result. Both major parties claim higher turnout will benefit their final showing.

Early voting in Texas alone surpassed the state’s total turnout for the 2014 midterms.

ACLU advice on voter intimidation

The American Civil Liberties Union has this advice out on voter intimidation. It comes within a context of widespread allegations of voter suppression and confusion over voter ID laws in some states.

Hate speech and the midterms

This year’s midterms have been bitterly fought but beyond everyday electioneering lies something more sinister.

The run-up to this year’s vote including a failed pipe bombing campaign targeting opponents of President Donald Trump, the murder of two African-Americans in a grocery store by a white supremacist, and a massacre of Jewish worshippers by a man shouting anti-Semitic slurs at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Coupled with the violence, has been a rise in anti-immigration rhetoric within parts of the Republican party, spearheaded by Trump and others on the GOP’s far-right. 

In this piece, Al Jazeera looks at how the rise of hate speech and violent acts are linked.

Explaining Trump’s appeal in small town Kentucky

Al Jazeera spoke to Trump-supporting residents in Irvine in Kentucky to gauge why the Republican president attracts such strong support.

Issues that came up frequently? Immigration and jobs. Read the story here.

Residents of more eastern states head to the polls

Residents in parts of Alabama, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina and Tennessee are heading to the polls. 

Many polling stations across these states and Washington, DC opened at 7am local time (12GMT). 

Polls open in North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia

Polls opened at 6:30am local time (11:30GMT) in North Carolina, Ohio and West Virginia. 

The Senate race in West Virginia will be one to watch as Democratic incumbent Joe Manchin faces off against Republican Patrick Morrisey. The latest polls give Manchin the edge, but an upset victory could spoil his party’s hopes of taking back the Senate.

Read about other Senate races you should watch here

Students will ‘walk out to vote’ at 10am

Students from the across the US will walk out of their classrooms on Tuesday at 10am and head to a polling station to cast their vote. 

The walkout is organised by the Future Coalition, a national network of youth-led organisations and initiatives, and for many participants, it will be their first time exercising their right to vote. 

Polls open in more states 

Polls have opened in parts of Connecticut, Indiana, Kentucky, Maine, New York, New Jersey, Vermont and Virginia

Facebook blocks 115 accounts before US midterm elections

Facebook announced late on Monday it had blocked 30 Facebook accounts and 85 Instagram accounts for possibly being engaged in “coordinated inauthentic behaviour”. 

“Almost all the Facebook Pages associated with these accounts appear to be in the French or Russian languages, while the Instagram accounts seem to have mostly been in English – some were focused on celebrities, others political debate,” Facebook said in a statement. 

“Typically, we would be further along with our analysis before announcing anything publicly. But given that we are only one day away from important elections in the US, we wanted to let people know about the action we’ve taken and the facts as we know them today.

“Once we know more – including whether these accounts are linked to the Russia-based Internet Research Agency or other foreign entities – we will update this post.”

First polls open in Vermont

The first polls in the US midterm elections have opened in Vermont. Polling stations in the rest of the state and many other states on the East Coast will soon follow between 6am and 7am local time (11-12GMT) 

A look at the US Capitol on the morning of the midterm elections

Polls will open across the East Coast in the coming hours. Here’s a look at the US Capitol building early on Tuesday morning. 

Google tells Americans to ‘go vote’ 

Google changed its google doodle in the US to ‘go vote’ with a link to find a polling place. 

Trump: In a sense, I’m on the ticket 

Trump used his final pitch to ask voters to help preserve “fragile” GOP victories that could be erased by Democratic gains in Congress.

Acknowledging the stakes in the closing days of campaigning, Trump stressed to voters that everything is on the line.

“It’s all fragile. Everything I told you about, it can be undone and changed by the Democrats if they get in,” Trump told supporters. “You see how they’ve behaved. You see what’s happening with them. They’ve really become radicalised.”

Trump spent his final hours on the campaign trail in Ohio, Indiana and Missouri, where his rhetoric on immigration turned harsh and he lobbed attacks at Democrats.

“The contrast in this election could not be more clear. Democrats produce mobs,” Trump said at his final rally in Cape Girardeau, Missouri. “That’s what’s happened. Republicans produce jobs.”

Trump has also sought to distance himself from any potential blame if Republicans lose control of the House, saying, “My primary focus has been on the Senate.”

Whatever the outcome, Trump made clear he knew his political future was on the line.

“In a sense, I am on the ticket,” he told a raucous crowd in Cleveland.

Voting officials under scrutiny amid heavy election turnout

Federal and state officials have been working for nearly two years to shore up the nation’s election infrastructure from cyberattacks by Russians or others seeking to disrupt the voting process.

It turns out that many of the problems are closer to home.

Early voting leading up to Tuesday’s midterm election have revealed a wide variety of concerns with voting and registration systems around the country  – from machines that changed voter selections to registration forms tossed out because of clerical errors.

Election officials and voting rights groups fear that voter confidence in the results could be undermined if such problems become even more widespread on Election Day, as millions of Americans head to the polls to decide pivotal races for Congress and governor.

Hannity joins Trump on stage despite claiming he wouldn’t

Fox News Channel insisted Sean Hannity would not be part of President Donald Trump’s last midterm election rally on Monday — but Trump called on Hannity to join him onstage anyway.

Hannity appeared on the podium with the president and delivered brief remarks. Another Fox News personality, Jeanine Pirro, also appeared onstage with the president. 

Hannity, cable news’ most popular personality, told the crowd, “By the way, all those people in the back are fake news.”

It was an extraordinary scene after the news network had worked on Monday to establish distance between Hannity and the campaign. Trump’s campaign had billed Hannity as a “special guest” at the rally, but Fox had said that wasn’t so, insisting he was merely broadcasting his show from the arena.

US officials warn Americans of ‘influence efforts’

Americans must be aware of “foreign actors” attempting to influence their choice as they vote in the midterm elections, a joint statement by US security agencies warned.

Naming Russia, China, and Iran, the statement said local officials would be on hand at polling stations to prevent any attempts to sway American voters.

“Our agencies have been working in unprecedented ways to combat influence efforts and to support state and local officials in securing our elections,” it said.

“But Americans should be aware that foreign actors – and Russia in particular – continue to try to influence public sentiment and voter perceptions through actions intended to sow discord.”

The departments said agents do this by spreading false information on candidates and disseminating propaganda on social media.

“The United States will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections from Russia, China, Iran, or other nations,” the statement said.

Monday, November 5

Networks, Facebook drop Trump’s anti-immigrant ad

NBC, Fox News and Facebook pulled a widely-condemned anti-immigrant ad by President Donald Trump’s campaign as a bitter election fight for control of the US Congress headed on Monday for an unpredictable finish.

The 30-second ad, which was sponsored by Trump’s 2020 re-election campaign and which debuted online last week, featured courtroom video of a Mexican citizen convicted in the 2014 killings of two police officers, juxtaposed with scenes of a US-bound caravan of Central American migrants and refugees.

Critics, including members of Trump’s own party, had condemned the spot for its open racism.

The ad fit into the president’s near-daily attacks on immigrants and the caravan, which he has described as an “invasion”.

First-time immigrant voters on the midterms 

“I now feel one with America.”

“I’ll finally feel like part of this country.”

“Trump doesn’t represent our country”

“To have a voice as an Arab-American, that’s very special”

This is what four first-time immigrant voters told Al Jazeera in the leadup to Tuesday’s poll. Read more.

When do polls open and close?

First polls will open in Vermont at 5am local time (10GMT). Many other states on the East Coast will follow between 6am local time (11GMT) and 7am local time (12GMT).

Most polling places will stay open for at least 12 hours. Many precincts will close between 6pm local time and 8pm local time, in their respective time zones.

Can Democrat Tony Evers oust Wisconsin’s right-wing governor?

With midterms less than a day away, right-wing Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s seven-year grip on the state could be slipping away.

Walker and his opponent, Democrat Tony Evers, were neck-and-neck in the closely-watched gubernatorial race as they made their final pitches to voters on campaign stops, television and online.

On Friday, Emerson College published a survey putting Evers at 51-percent support and incumbent Walker at 46 percent. Previous polls had the two opponents back and forth in the lead.

Read about other governor races you should check out here

Trump: ‘Everything at stake’ in midterms 

Donald Trump embarked Monday on a whirlwind final push across three states to stop Democrats from breaking his Republicans’ stranglehold on the US Congress. 

Cleveland, Ohio; Fort Wayne, Indiana; then Cape Girardeau, Missouri: it will be well after midnight before the real estate billionaire and populist showman gets back to the White House – and only a few hours more before polls open Tuesday across the world’s largest economy.

“Everything we have created and achieved is at stake on election day,” Trump told a cheering crowd in Cleveland, as he kicked off his furious last round of campaigning. 

Trump is not on the ballot in the midterms, in which the entire House of Representatives and a third of the Senate are up for grabs. But in a hard-driving series of rallies around the country the most polarising US president for decades has put himself at the centre of every issue.

Ways in which voters can be disenfranchised

Millions of Americans will be barred from casting ballots in Tuesday’s crucial midterm elections due to electoral rules at the state level, which effectively exclude many minority voters to the detriment of Democrats.

Here’s a look at states where these restrictions could impact the poll’s outcome.

Disenfranchised convicts

Nearly six million Americans are excluded from voting because they are imprisoned, on parole or awaiting sentencing.

African-Americans, who are overrepresented in the US penal system, are four times more likely to be unable to vote than the rest of the population, according to The Sentencing Project, a nonprofit organisation.

Rules vary widely by state, with some like Maine and New Hampshire allowing inmates to vote.

But in places such as Kentucky, Iowa, Virginia and Florida, any conviction, even for a minor offense like possession of marijuana, results in lifelong disenfranchisement. In Florida, 1.5 million people are disenfranchised.

Proof of residential address

There is no national identity card in the United States, with each state defining what documents can be used as identification at the polling station.

And according to the American Civil Liberties Union, an influential civil rights organisation, several states have imposed restrictive rules since 2010.

Exact match rules

In Georgia, the data voters provide when registering at the polls have since 2017 been compared to those given when applying for a driver’s license or social security number.

If there are discrepancies, authorities might refuse the registration.

Some 53,000 applications are currently pending, 70 percent of which belong to African-Americans, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Stacey Abrams slams Kemp’s hacking claims

Georgia’s Democratic candidate for governor, Stacey Abrams, has pushed back against Republican opponent Brian Kemp for accusing Democrats of hacking voter registration systems, a charge he levelled without evidence.

“I think, unfortunately, Secretary Kemp has not only abused his power, he has failed to do his job,” Abrams said in an interview with ABC on Monday. “And you don’t deserve a promotion when you do not serve the people you’ve been hired to serve.”

Kemp, the pro-Trump Republican candidate in Georgia’s governor’s race, who also oversees the state’s elections, made the accusation on Sunday, a move analysts said highlighted the inherent conflict between his twin roles.

Early voting dramatically higher than 2014

Figures compiled by data analysis firm Catalist, puts the number of people voting before polling day in the 2018 midterms at more than 12 million people higher than 2014.

In 2014, 19,052,732 people voted early in the midterms, in 2018, the number so far is 31,299,060.

The number of young people voting early has more than doubled. The figure for people under 30 in 2014 was 1,027,499 and in 2018, the number so far is 2,314,126.

Why the Democrats will struggle in the Senate.

The Democrats may be polling higher nationally, but they have their work cut out in trying to get control of the Senate.

As it stands, the Republicans have a slender 51 to 49 majority in the upper house of Congress.

Birmingham University’s Professor Scott Lucas explains that most seats up for election are Democrat and the ones that are Republican are mostly in GOP strongholds.

“Despite the seven percent polling lead, Democrats have a far tougher task than with the House, as they are defending 25 of the 35 contested seats, and the 10 Republican seats are all in GOP strongholds,” he said.

“There are nine key races, with five of the seats currently held by Democrats and four by Republicans: Florida (D), Indiana (D), Missouri (D), North Dakota (D), Montana (D), Tennessee (R), Texas (R), Nevada (R), Arizona (R).

“Democrats will struggle to take Texas or Tennessee on current projections. So they must win the other two GOP seats and hold their five vulnerable seats.”

Meeting Trump supporters in small town Kentucky

What attracts support for Trump in Estill County, Kentucky? The US president may not be on the ballot but for these voters the Republican’s promise to bring new jobs to the deeply Red state resonates strongly.

Read the full story here.

Democrats hold double digit popular poll lead over Republicans

A CNN/SSRS poll says the Democrats have a 13 point lead over the Republicans nationally, with 55 percent of voters preferring the party to the GOP’s 42 percent.

Women are more likely to vote Democrat than republican by a margin of almost two to one, while men were evenly split along party lines, according to the poll.

White men are most supportive of the Republicans, with 57 percent support, with the number rising to 67 percent for those without college degrees.

Republican candidate, who oversees election, investigates Democrats for ‘hacking’

Controversial Republican gubernatorial candidate, Brian Kemp, who is also overseeing Tuesday’s election in Georgia has accused his opponents, the Democrats, of trying to hack the state’s online voter database.

Kemp, has drawn criticism for refusing to relinquish his role as Georgia’s secretary of state, while he stands for governor.

“I can confirm that the Democratic Party of Georgia is under investigation for possible cybercrimes,” said Candice Broce, who works for Kemp.

Rebecca DeHart, executive director at the state Democratic Party called the announcement a “political stunt” to cover up weaknesses of a system Kemp runs.

Kemp’s opponent, Democrat Stacey Abrams, has called him “an architect of voter suppression” and said he’s used his current position to make it harder for certain voters to cast ballots.

If elected, Abrams would be the first black governor of a US state.

Sunday, November 4 

RNC chairperson: ‘Good people too trying to get into country’

Republican National Committee chairperson Ronna McDaniel has said she knows “good people too are trying to get into this country”.

“They see the prosperity, they see the economic growth”, she said in an interview with CNN on Sunday regarding a controversial video US President Donald Trump tweeted last Wednesday that critics have called “racist”. 

The video depicts Luis Bracamontes, a Mexican immigrant who was deported from the US, but returned and was convicted in February of killing two California deputies.

Text on the video alleges Democrats “let him” into the US, followed by images of the migrant caravan, composed largely of Hondurans, currently passing through Mexico on way to the US. 

“Who else would Democrats let in?” the video asks.

The video’s claims about Bracamontes were rated as “pants on fire” by Politifact, a fact-checking journalistic outlet.

The rating is a reference to the idiom – “Liar, liar, pants on fire” – and Politifact considers statements worthy of this designation as those which are “not accurate” and make a “ridiculous” claim.

“The reality is that Bracamontes’ last illegal entry was under Bush, a Republican president. The majority of his time going undetected was also on the Republican watch,” Politifact wrote.

Midterms to see record $5.2bn political spending: report 

The 2018 midterms are set to be the most expensive on record, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), a Washington, DC-based group that tracks political spending. 

CRP estimates total spending to cross $5.2bn, a 35 percent increase over the 2014 midterms, in which spending remained short of $4bn. The group said it would be the largest increase in at least two decades.

“The significance of this election is clear. But whether it’s a blue wave or a red wave, one thing is certain: a wave of money is surging towards Election Day, much of it coming from the wealthiest donors targeting this year’s most competitive races,” Sheila Krumholz, CRP’s executive director, said on the group’s website.

Both the US parties are raising funds at record levels, but CRP said the sizeable increase is being driven primarily by Democrats. 

Democrat candidates are expected to spend over $2.5bn this year, while the figure for the Republicans stands at roughly $2.2bn, according to the group. 

Democrats expected to win House, Republicans to keep the Senate

Most opinion polls and political handicappers expect Democrats to win the 23 seats they need to assume control of the 435-seat House of Representatives.

Democrats currently hold 193 seats in the House, while Republicans control 235. There are also seven vacancies, according to the US House of Representatives Press Gallery.

All 435 seats are up for grabs on Tuesday.  

Republicans are favoured to keep control of the 100-seat Senate, where they currently control 51 seats. Democrats control 47 seats. There are two Independents, Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine. They both caucus with the Democrats, effectively bringing the number of seats they control to 49. 

There are 35 Senate seats contested this year, 26 of which are held by Democrats. 

Trump and Obama to hold rallies as midterms loom 

With the midterms just two days away, big rallies are expected by US President Donald Trump and former President Barrack Obama on Sunday.

Obama will be campaigning in Indiana starting from 19:00 GMT, and will headline a get-out-the-vote rally at the University of Illinois at 22:00 GMT.

Trump will hold MAGA rallies in Macon, Georgia, and at 23:00 GMT in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Former Vice President Joe Biden will be rallying in Pennsylvania from 23:30 GMT.

Al Jazeera on Sunday will be looking at how women’s participation is expected to change the national landscape. Dismayed by Trump’s approach towards women, more than a million marched on Washington to protest his election.

Many are also furious over his Supreme Court pick Brett Kavanaugh who could rule against abortion rights. An unprecedented number of women – many of them new to politics – are running for office at all levels.

Saturday, November 3 

Racist robocalls hit Georgia race

A wave of robocalls using racist language went out in Georgia in recent days, apparently aimed at undermining the campaign of former state politician Stacey Abrams, who is running to become the first black female governor in the United States, according to her and her rival’s campaign.

The calls impersonated media mogul Oprah Winfrey, who earlier this week campaigned with Abrams, and also featured anti-Semitic language, according to audio of the call heard by Reuters.

Both Abrams and her rival, Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, denounced the calls, with the Republican calling them “absolutely disgusting.”

The issue of voter suppression has been central to the race in Georgia, where Kemp is the state’s top election overseer.

Two federal courts on Friday issued rulings ordering the state to allow some 3,000 naturalized US citizens to vote in Tuesday’s elections and preventing the state from throwing out some absentee ballots.

A similarly racist round of calls went out in August in Florida, targeting Democratic candidate Andre Gillum, who is black.

Early voting turnout soars

As of Friday night, almost 32.4 million people had cast ballots early across the US, according to The Election Project at the University of Florida, which tracks turnout. That is up more than 50 percent from the 20.5 million early votes cast in all of 2014, the last federal election when the White House was not at stake.

Trump on campaign blitz

Trump is hitting the campaign trail hard in the last few days before the midterm election. He held rallies in Montana on Saturday and has a number scheduled for Sunday and Monday.

He’s in the midst of a final sprint to Tuesday’s midterm elections, and will be in Montana and Florida later Saturday to campaign for Republican candidates.

The president says in an early morning tweet that “Everyone is excited about the Jobs Numbers – 250,000 new jobs in October. Also, wages rising. Wow!”

The government reported Friday that employers added 250,000 jobs last month. Unemployment remains low and pay rose at a healthy pace.

Trump held rallies Friday in West Virginia and Indiana, where he stayed overnight.

Trump opened those rallies by highlighting the economic new

Click here for all previous updates. 

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