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More than 31 million to vote in US 2018 midterm election

Voters head to the polls on Tuesday in an election seen as a referendum on Donald Trump’s first two years in office. NEWS / UNITED STATES

US midterms 2018: Latest updates

Voters head to the polls on Tuesday in an election seen as a referendum on Donald Trump’s first two years in office. NEWS / UNITED STATES

DEVELOPING STORY

Elections Donald Trump US & Canada US voters go to the polls on Tuesday, November 6, 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.

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.

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.

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.

Opening hours

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.”

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.

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.

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