Polls are starting to close across the country, so that’s it for our daytime election news. We’ve got a night crew taking over. For updates on the results and other developments throughout the evening, click over to our election live blog.
Election Day is finally here. Tuesday’s midterm elections could very well hinge on a few dozen races and slight shifts in voter turnout. Election forecasts suggest that Democrats have a good chance of taking the House and that Republicans will most likely retain control of the Senate. But close races across the country mean it could be a long night.
We’ll be updating this post all day with news from across the country about the voting process: voter-suppression efforts, last-ditch campaign pushes from candidates, the weather forecast, and anything else that comes up as tens of millions of Americans cast their ballots.
Check in throughout the day for the latest news.
When Will Anything Important Happen, Anyways?
5:30 p.m. — The first polls close at 6:00 p.m., though we likely won’t see any indicators of where the House is leaning until around an hour later, when crucial races in Virginia, Florida, and Georgia will report results.
You’ll really want to tune in by 8:00 p.m., when dozens of House races and a handful of competitive gubernatorial races will close, giving us very strong signals of where this night is headed. Pennsylvania and New Jersey’s congressional races will be particularly important at this point.
Election forecasters are predicting that we could know whether the Democrats are going to be able to take the House at about 9:00 p.m., when results from decisive races in Arizona, Colorado, and Minnesota will become available.
Some Last-Ditch Endorsements from the President
4:30 p.m. — President Trump, who has been mostly quiet on Twitter on Tuesday, abruptly issued four endorsements for Republican House candidates in Illinois, Florida, Michigan, and New Jersey in quick succession this afternoon.
All four tweets include some variation of the phrase “Strong Endorsement!” or “Total Endorsement!” It’s unclear why he waited until so late in the day to voice his support—he had issued no such endorsements on Twitter this morning.
The New York Times reports that Trump has been “bracing for grim political news” today.
Extended Hours at Some Polling Places in Georgia, Indiana
3:55 p.m. — Some polling places are planning to stay open past their official hours to make up for delays and mix-ups earlier in the day.
The Annistown Elementary School, a polling place in Georgia, will stay open 25 minutes past its official closing time due to problems with its electronic ExpressPoll system, which led to an hours-long waiting time. (See below for more details on the problems there today.)
A judge ruled on Tuesday afternoon that 12 polling places in northwestern Indiana have to keep operating up to two-and-a-half hours late after they did not open on time. The Republican clerk for Porter County, Indiana, blamed the late start on poll workers quitting, a failure to pick up election supplies, and issues with accessing polling sites.
More Voting Issues in the Southeast and Midwest
3:15 p.m. — Reports of voting hiccups are coming in from across the Southeast and Midwest, where many tightly contested races are taking place. Here’s a sampling of reported issues.
Voters at various Detroit polling places have been turned away or forced to wait in hours-long lines because of frozen machines and improper use of surge protectors. Some machines in North Carolina have been unable to process paper ballots due to high humidity levels and the length of the voter forms. Voters in South Carolina have reported that their votes were changed to the opposite party because of to calibration issues. Confusion over a court case on voter ID laws in Missouri has also led poll workers to incorrectly inform people that they need to show photo identification to vote.
But the state with the most problems remains Georgia.
Trouble in Georgia
1:45 p.m.—It appears that malfunctions in the voting process have been particularly acute today in Georgia, where the closely watched gubernatorial race between Stacey Abrams and Brian Kemp is taking place.
The AP reports that people have been waiting in line for hours in certain counties due to problems with voting machines. The machines at a polling place in Snellville didn’t have power cords and were running out of battery life, leaving more than 100 people waiting. Voters in Gwinnett, a battleground district, reportedly have been waiting in line for 4½ hours because of bugs in the election ExpressPoll system.
Poll workers have been trying to provide provisional paper ballots instead, and dozens of voters have reportedly left due to the long lines. The Annistown Elementary School, a polling place in Gwinnett, will stay open for 25 minutes past the normal closing time to accommodate for the delay.
The problems on Election Day follow a series of controversies involving Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, who as Georgia’s current secretary of state is essentially overseeing the election procedures in his own race. During the campaign, Kemp has baselessly accused the Democratic Party of hacking into the state’s voter database, delayed more than 50,000 voter registrations for small inconsistencies like missing hyphens, and rallied against rules allowing people to prove their identities if their absentee-ballot applications are initially rejected due to mismatches in signatures.
Does Your Vote Count If You Die Before the Election Ends?
12:45 p.m.—The Washington Post reported that an 82-year-old Texas woman named Gracie Lou Phillips cast a ballot for the first time in her life during early voting on Thursday. Her son-in-law told the Post that Phillips had previously declined to vote because she didn’t believe she had a voice, but this time decided to vote straight-ticket Republican. Then she died on Monday. Does her vote still count?
Yes. The rules around early and absentee ballots cast by voters who die before Election Day vary from state to state. Texas is one of the states that allows for such votes to be counted. Even in states like South Dakota, where these votes are technically invalid, most voting systems are not quick enough to update their rolls with recent deaths in time for tallying.
What People Are Asking Google Today
12:30 p.m.—The top trending searches on Google today include some you might expect, with inquiries like “election results” and “where do I go to vote” taking spots among the most popular searches.
ProPublica’s Electionland trend map, which shows what search terms are popular in certain areas of the country, shows that the inquiries “long wait times” and “provisional ballots” have been seeing spikes, particularly along the East Coast.
We tried to help out voters by answering one pressing question: Is it legal to take a selfie with your ballot?
How to Spot Voter Suppression
Noon—While malfunctioning machines and long lines are often just the result of poor planning, it’s good to be on the lookout for efforts designed to deprive people of their right to vote. Here’s a two-question interview with Slate’s legal writer Mark Joseph Stern, who has covered voter disenfranchisement extensively.
What are some red flags that voters should be looking out for at polling places?
Stern: Voter purges are a key tool of disenfranchisement. In recent years, we’ve seen state officials remove thousands of voters from the rolls without their knowledge—and often in violation of federal voting-rights laws. If you witness lots of people being told they’re mysteriously absent from the rolls, that might indicate a purge. If you yourself are missing from the rolls, you may have been the victim of a purge. But it could also be a result of simple maladministration.
What should voters do if they spot signs of suppression efforts?
Stern: If you’re missing from the rolls, insist that election officials check again. If they still can’t find you, call 866-OUR-VOTE for assistance. It’s a hotline staffed by the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. They’ll help you out—and if you’re one of many people struggling to vote at your precinct, they’ll flag it and investigate further.
If you are told you can’t vote for some reason, the most common solution is to demand a provisional ballot. You can then cast a vote, but must follow up shortly after Election Day to provide whatever materials you’re ostensibly lacking, or else your ballot won’t be counted. Not every state follows this procedure, however, so it’s imperative to call 866-OUR-VOTE.
Did It Have to Happen Today?
10:30 a.m.—The Atherton Elementary School, which is serving as a polling place in Michigan, is holding armed-intruder training sessions on Election Day. But don’t worry: The district informed voters that they should not be alarmed if they hear gunshots and see people fleeing the campus. There will also be several police vehicles in the parking lot from 8 a.m. to noon.
The U.S. Border Patrol in El Paso, Texas, also planned a “crowd-control” exercise in a Latino neighborhood at 10 a.m. The American Civil Liberties Union has criticized the timing and location as “suspicious.” (Update: The Border Patrol subsequently issued a press release stating that the exercise has been rescheduled but did not give a reason why.)
Early Morning Polling Place Failures
10 a.m.—There have already been multiple reports of voters being turned away at polling places due to lack of preparation and other logistical failures.
For example, the ABC affiliate in Detroit is reporting that people who arrived at the polling place at Martin Luther King Jr. High School this morning were unable to vote because the voting machines were missing. Due to miscommunication, the machines had been locked in a closet on the opposite end of the campus that election workers were unable to access. The issue was later resolved.
The Houston Chronicle further reported that multiple polling places across the city are experiencing technical difficulties with machines, leading to long lines. One polling place had a line of about 70 people as of 8 a.m.
The recorder for Maricopa County, Arizona, has confirmed that there are “building access issues” at least one polling place in the area.
Twitter users from across the country have also reported issues. One claimed that election workers at a polling place didn’t have a key to unlock the ballot box. Another said that an election inspector failed to show up altogether.
Who Does Bad Weather Help?
8:30 a.m.—Strong winds, rain, and snow are expected as part of a major storm on the East Coast on Monday, potentially affecting voter turnout in states with key battleground districts. Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and other states with multiple toss-up races are likely to experience storms throughout the day. Does it matter?
The conventional wisdom is that inclement weather helps Republicans because it discourages people from making the trip to vote. The consensus among election researchers seems to be that bad weather does impact turnout, but it’s unclear how exactly this phenomenon plays out for certain political parties and voter demographics.
A 2007 study found that for every inch of rain, voter turnout drops by almost 1 percent, ultimately benefiting Republicans. Another study in 2016, though, found that rain in fact marginally benefits Democrats. Researchers at Dartmouth College suggest that rain on Election Day may actually persuade people to vote Republican instead of Democrat, and researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill produced evidence indicating that stormy weather prods voters to pick the candidate they see as less “risky.”
Not Waiting Until Today
8:15 a.m.—Early voters have been turning out in full force in the weeks before Election Day. CNN reports that, as of Monday morning, at least 31 million people have voted early in 2018. That’s far more than the 22 million early votes that were cast in the 2014 midterm elections.
In at least 10 states, voters under 30 account for a larger portion of this early-voting electorate than they did in 2014. Democrats have interpreted this initial surge as a good sign, since higher turnout usually works in the party’s favor, though we don’t yet know the political leanings of these early voters.