NBC News Exit Poll: Americans think U.S. democracy is under threat, but they disagree on why
For the first time, this year’s NBC News Exit Poll asked midterm voters to assess the state of democracy in the U.S. Seventy percent of voters said that democracy in the U.S. is “threatened” — including 72% of Democrats and 68% Republicans.
Democrats and Republicans were divided on what ails American democracy. One sign: Republican expressed widespread skepticism about President Biden’s 2020 election victory. Two-thirds of Republicans disagreed that Biden legitimately won the election, despite the fact that courts, election administrators and others have repeatedly found no evidence of widespread fraud.
Another partisan split on the health of U.S. democracy: 29% of Republicans said they were not confident that elections in their states are being conducted fairly and accurately; just 5% of Democrats shared that concern.
Voters have a say on abortion in 5 states with high-stakes ballot measures
Millions of voters will soon determine the fate of abortion access in a handful of states, including Michigan, which could become the first to make an abortion ban permanently unenforceable since the fall of Roe v. Wade.
At the polls Tuesday, voters in California, Michigan and Vermont will decide whether to enshrine reproductive freedom rights in their state constitutions, while voters in Kentucky could do the opposite and explicitly conclude there should be no such protections.
In Montana, if a ballot initiative passes, health care providers in the state could face criminal charges if they do not take “reasonable actions” to save an infant who is born alive, including after an attempted abortion.
The measure and its proposed punishments, including up to 20 years behind bars and a maximum $50,000 fine, have been met with fierce opposition from medical providers.
Read the full story here.
NBC News Exit Poll: More voters say Biden’s policies are hurting the country than helping it
President Biden fell short in convincing voters of the merits of his administration’s policies, according to the NBC News Exit Poll. Most voters said that Biden’s policies are either hurting the country (46%) or not making a difference (16%). A little over one-third of voters said that Biden’s policies are mostly helping the country.
Even some of Biden’s core constituencies said they were unconvinced that his policies are working. Only about one-third of Latinos, voters under age 30 and independents said that his policies are mostly helping the country. Black voters are one of the few groups where a majority (55%) said Biden’s policies are helping.
Biden’s job performance rating among midterm voters (45% approval) is the same as former President Trump’s in 2018. However, one key difference is that Biden lacks the strong enthusiasm from his base that Trump enjoyed. Thirty-one percent of voters expressed strong approval of Trump in 2018. This year, just 19% of voters expressed strong approval of Biden’s job performance.
Judge extends voting hours in Pennsylvania county after paper shortage
A judge has extended voting hours to 10pm in Luzerne County, Pennsylvania, in the wake of a widespread paper shortage for printing ballots. The county manager said that 20% of the 187 polling places were affected for at least 4 hours on Tuesday.
In an emergency petition filed by the Luzerne County Bureau of Elections, officials said that a paper shortage resulted in “serious delays.” It also said that some voters told them they could not remain at the polls and were unable to return until after the polls had closed.
Local officials said they do not know the number of voters that were unable to cast their ballots today because of this issue. That will become clearer in the coming days.
Tribal Nations in Oklahoma hope for upset in governor’s race
Tribal nations in deep red Oklahoma are hoping for an upset in the reliably Republican state’s gubernatorial race. And in the case of incumbent Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt, a citizen of the Cherokee Nation, his own tribe is endorsing his opponent.
Stitt’s battle with tribal nations in Oklahoma dates to his first year in office, when he tried to strong-arm tribes into giving more casino revenues to the state. Stitt lost that battle in court, but his opposition to tribal governments escalated when he and the state’s attorney general successfully pushed a case to the U.S. Supreme Court that diminished the jurisdiction tribal governments have over crime on their reservations.
“Kevin Stitt absolutely is against the sovereignty of the tribes, so I’m absolutely against him,” said Mariah Smith, a school tutor and a citizen of the Chickasaw Nation, as they were walking into their polling place in Norman, OK on Wednesday.
In an unprecedented move last month, five tribal nations — the Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw Muscogee and Seminole nations — banded together to endorse Stitt’s opponent, Joy Hofmeister. Oklahoma’s former superintendent of public instruction, Hofmeister switched parties from Republican to Democrat to run against Stitt. Some of those same tribal nations contributed to Stitt’s first campaign and have since given money to his opponent.
While both candidates have led the polls, Stitt is projected to win the race.
NBC News Exit Poll: Most voters disappointed or angry about Supreme Court’s abortion decision
The majority of voters nationwide said they are disappointed or angry about the Supreme Court’s decision overturning Roe v. Wade, the NBC News Exit Poll found.
The poll also found that more voters said abortion should be legal than illegal: 60% said it should be legal in all or most cases, while 36% said it should be illegal in all or most cases. Just 9% of voters said abortion should be illegal in all cases.
Abortion continues to be an issue of relative strength for the Democratic Party: 52% of midterm voters nationwide said they trust the Democratic Party more on abortion, while 42% said they trust the Republican Party more.
Abortion was the only issue for which the Democratic Party enjoyed an advantage over the GOP in the NBC News Exit Poll. On other issues, such as inflation and crime, the Republican Party was more trusted.
Whitmer wears her abortion stance on her sweater
NBC News Exit Poll: Inflation, abortion lead list of voter concerns
Inflation and abortion are leading the list of issues identified by Americans as mattering most to their voting decision in this year’s midterm elections, the NBC News Exit Poll found.
Nearly one-third of voters named inflation and 27% named abortion when asked which issue mattered most this year. Trailing these concerns were crime and gun policy (each named by 12% of voters), followed by immigration (10%).
Republican candidates across the country emphasized crime, inflation and immigration in their advertisements and on the stump. Many Republican voters shared these concerns, the exit poll shows, with 44% naming inflation as the most important issue, followed by immigration (15%).
By contrast, Democrats were overwhelmingly concerned about abortion, with 46% naming it as the most important issue, followed by inflation (15%) and gun policy (14%).
Near the last abortion clinic to close in Miss., some voters back reproductive rights
JACKSON, Miss. — In the neighborhood that was home to the state’s last abortion clinic, some voters said the loss of reproductive rights was a critical issue as they cast their ballots.
“I feel it was settled precedent and the Supreme Court shouldn’t have overturned that,” Kelly Christiansen said.
A 2018 Mississippi law largely banning abortions after 15 weeks led to a series of legal battles culminating in the ruling that overturned Roe v. Wade.
Christiansen, 61, said the court’s decision feels like “just the beginning of encroaching on a lot of our rights.”
She voted for Shuwaski Young, a Democratic candidate for Mississippi’s 3rd Congressional District who supports abortion rights. Republican Rep. Michael Guest, the front-runner in polls, agreed with the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Mississippi election websites experience outages after Russian hackers call for attack
Several Mississippi state websites were intermittently inaccessible Tuesday afternoon after a Russian hacker group named the state as a target to knock offline.
The vast majority of election equipment isn’t connected to the internet, and it’s practically impossible to change a vote or keep Americans from voting through a cyberattack. But state websites like that of the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office are crucial sources for residents looking for how and where to vote.
A Russian-speaking hacker group that specializes in distributed denial of service attacks — a basic cyberattack that simply floods a website with traffic, keeping it from loading — posted a call on its Telegram channel around 1 p.m. ET for its supporters to attack a particular web address that is part of the Mississippi secretary of state website.
Elizabeth Jonson, a spokesperson for the Mississippi secretary of state’s office, told NBC News that the attacks started a little after 1 p.m. ET, but that her office had yet to determine a cause.
Solution found for malfunctioning machines in Maricopa County
Election officials in Maricopa County say they now have a fix for the dozens of vote tabulation machines that aren’t accepting ballots: change the printer settings.
The apparently simple solution has worked at 17 locations, and technicians deployed at other sites were attempting to resolve the issue Tuesday afternoon, hours after problems were first reported at about 60 polling centers.
Various GOP politicians and pundits seized on voting machine issues in Arizona’s largest county to perpetuate doubts about the security of U.S. elections.
Election Day ‘going smoothly for the most part,’ election law analyst says
Matthew Sanderson, co-leader of the political law group at the law firm Caplin & Drysdale, said in an email that the voting issues observed so far are common for Election Day and not particularly concerning.
“Election Day is going smoothly for the most part. Precincts in Cobb County, Georgia and Luzerne County, Pennsylvania have had their hours extended by courts because they had trouble opening on time, but that happens regularly on Election Day,” Sanderson, an NBC News and MSNBC election law analyst, wrote.
“Some tabulator machines in Maricopa County, Arizona have malfunctioned, and some commentators on the right have tried to paint that as part of a sinister plot,” he added. “The reality, though, is that equipment malfunctions have always been a part of Election Day and Maricopa election officials have had contingency plans in place to make sure that voters can cast their ballots without interruption.”
Sanderson warned, however, that any issues, including the ones in Maricopa County, could resonate for a while.
“Despite the relative calm right now, I’m realistic enough to expect claims of systemic election fraud in the post-election period if certain candidates lose or find themselves in tight races,” Sanderson added.
Riding to the polls — on horseback
In Arizona, two groups are mobilizing Latino voters on Election Day by organizing an afternoon parade and ride to the polls — with a distinct form of transportation.
Poder Latinx, a progressive voter mobilization organization, and the American Civil Liberties Union of Arizona are hosting the “Cabalgata a las Urnas,” or Ride to the Polls, part of the group’s final push to mobilize Hispanic voters in Phoenix and Maricopa County.
A cabalgata is a procession or parade on horseback and is a celebratory event common in Mexico and other Latin American countries.
The event expects to draw around 100 people, and about 40 to 60 people are expected to ride on horseback, Yadira Sanchez, co-executive director at Poder Latinx, told NBC News. The two-hour event starts at 3 p.m. and ends at the Westridge Baptist Church across the street from a ballot box. A taco truck and live banda music will also be featured.
“Today is a Tuesday, a lot of folks are at work,” Sanchez said. “We’re hoping they can join us afterwards. In other countries in Latin America, you don’t vote on a Tuesday, you vote on Sunday, on a weekend. So this is a way for us to bring them out as well.”
Arizona’s Maricopa County pushes back on conservative activist’s false claims
The verified Twitter account for Maricopa County, Arizona, forcefully pushed back on a post from conservative activist Charlie Kirk, who falsely claimed earlier Tuesday that Democrats had orchestrated long waits at polling places.
“No part of the tweet below is accurate,” Maricopa County said in a tweet that included a screenshot of Kirk’s post. “The vast majority of Vote Centers are seeing wait times under 30 minutes, and whether by tabulator or secure ballot box, all voters are being served.”
Kirk, founder of the conservative youth activism group Turning Point USA, and other conservative activists have sought to sow doubts about the security of U.S. elections systems.
NBC News Exit Poll: Our methodology, and how we’re counting early and absentee voters
The NBC News Exit Poll was conducted with voters as they left polling places across the United States on Election Day. To account for the high number of early and absentee voters and ensure a sample that accurately represents the ways all Americans cast their ballots nationwide, the exit poll also includes extensive interviews with in-person early voters, as well as telephone surveys to capture absentee voters.
The exit poll was conducted at early in-person voting centers in seven states, an innovation that began in 2018 in only two states. The exit poll has always included telephone polls of absentee voters nationally and in a handful of states with high levels of early voting. This year, telephone polls were conducted in all 11 states that were polled, as well as in the national exit poll.
By the end of Election Day, approximately 21,000 total interviews will be conducted.
In South Texas, long lines at polls amid competitive races
EDINBURG, Texas — Voters were waiting as many as two hours or more to vote in this small, deep South Texas city, where the predominantly Latino region is in the throes of competitive elections that could change the traditional political landscape.
The region, controlled by Democrats for more than 100 years, has been a competitive battleground in federal, congressional, state and local races this year as Republicans have tried to capture more Latino votes.
Waits were long at Lark Community Center in McAllen, Texas. The polling sites in Hidalgo County are in the 15th Congressional District, where Trump-backed GOP candidate Monica De La Cruz is in a heated race against Democrat Michelle Vallejo.
Hilda Salinas, Hidalgo County interim elections administrator, said 39,000 people voted in 2018 and 33,000 in 2020 in the county. As of midafternoon, about 16,758 had voted.
Election workers process ballots in Philadelphia
Despite ‘disinformation’ campaigns, Washington officials report no early voting problems
SEATTLE — Elections officials in Washington state reported no security problems early Tuesday despite persistent “disinformation campaigns” aimed at casting doubt on the state’s mail-in elections during the run-up to the general election.
“We have not had any threats, reports of intimidation, or harassment this election (thank goodness!),” King County Elections spokesperson Halei Watkins said in an email to NBC News on Tuesday morning.
Before the August primary election, conservative activists posted signs near drop boxes in Seattle, warning they were “under surveillance” for potential voter fraud. Another group calling itself “WA Citizens United to Secure Ballot Boxes” recruited volunteers online to monitor drop boxes statewide and to report “suspicious activity.”
Last month, Secretary of State Steve Hobbs and King County Elections Director Julie Wise described such efforts among an array of conspiracy theories, intimidation tactics and baseless claims of voter fraud aimed to sow doubt in elections systems they stressed are secure and transparent.
“We continue to see levels of disinformation, particularly continued false narratives from the 2020 election,” Hobbs said.
Behind the battle for a suburban Pittsburgh House district with national implications
MT. LEBANON, Pa. — One of the most hotly contested races of the 2022 midterms is taking place in the Pittsburgh suburbs and it could test how well, or poorly, each party fares in Tuesday’s election.
In Pennsylvania’s 17th Congressional District, Democrat Chris Deluzio is taking on Republican Jeremy Shaffer in the only toss-up contest for an open congressional seat in the six swing states that Joe Biden won in 2020, according to The Cook Political Report, the nonpartisan analyst of elections. The race is a must-win for Democrats to have any hope of retaining control of the House.
This district, which Biden won by about 6 points in 2020, has seen the second–most advertising spend of any race in the Keystone State, according to AdImpact tracking. It stretches from wealthier suburbs south of Pittsburgh through the western part of Allegheny County, and encompasses the entirety of Beaver County, a swing, working-class county to Pittsburgh’s northwest.
But with Rep. Conor Lamb, D-Pa., the district’s sitting congressman, making a failed bid for Senate, the party lost its advantage of incumbency — and the race has now become a coin flip.
Read the full story here.
Pelosi speaks to DCCC, Biden calls in
House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., spoke at a Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee luncheon this afternoon, a source familiar with the event said. She tweeted a video with Democratic National Committee Chair Jaime Harrison and former Attorney General Eric Holder telling viewers to “be heard — Vote!”
President Joe Biden called in on Harrison’s cellphone to wish everyone well and praised the speaker, the source said. He also spoke individually by phone with the Democratic Governors Association chair, North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper; DCCC Chair Sean Patrick Maloney of New York, who is facing a strong challenge from Republican state Assemblyman Mike Lawler; Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee Chair Gary Peters of Michigan and DNC senior adviser Cedric Richmond. Biden also took to Twitter on Tuesday to urge people to vote.
Jan. 6 committee interviews person who drove Trump on day of insurrection
Investigators on the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 riot have interviewed the person who drove President Donald Trump’s vehicle on the day of the insurrection, according to three sources familiar with the matter.
The interview took place Monday, the sources told NBC News. Cassidy Hutchinson, who was an aide to White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified before the committee over the summer that Trump lunged at his driver on the day of the attack when he learned that the Secret Service wouldn’t take him to the Capitol.
Justice Department monitors agree to wait outside Florida polls
The Department of Justice will have its election monitors wait outside Florida polling places, rather than inside, following a spat with Florida state officials.
The DOJ announced on Monday that it would monitor polls at select locations in 24 states, including Florida, to ensure that they complied with federal voting rights laws. In a letter from the Florida Department of State to the Justice Department, Florida claimed that its state law prohibits federal monitors from entering a polling place without fulfilling certain conditions that DOJ didn’t fill.
The Justice Department declined to comment, but a person familiar with the agency’s thinking said that while the agency was confident in its legal authority to enter the polling places, its employees would agree to wait outside in Florida so as to not become a distraction in a political battle.
Voters cast their ballots in Atlanta
Senate race in N.C. could make history, decide party majority
In North Carolina, Democrat Cheri Beasley and Republican Ted Budd are vying for the seat of retiring GOP Sen. Richard Burr. The contest will help decide which party gains control of the Senate.
Beasley is the former state Supreme Court chief justice, and if elected would be the state’s first Black senator. Election Day remarks that she posted on Twitter drew a line from the present to the past, when Black people faced many obstacles to voting in North Carolina and throughout the broader South.
“My late mother was granted the right to vote by the Voting Rights Act, and if she were here today, she would remind us that every election is the most important election of our lifetimes,” Beasley said as she encouraged people to vote.
Budd, the polling favorite, is endorsed by former President Donald Trump and served three terms in the House.
Texas Democrats cling to hopes of an unlikely upset in governor’s race
HOUSTON — Despite trailing in every poll, Democrats in Texas are holding out hope that former U.S. Rep. Beto O’Rourke can pull out an upset over Republican Gov. Greg Abbott in what has been the most expensive governor’s race in state history.
O’Rourke’s campaign has been fueled by backlash against the state’s abortion ban, the failure to secure the electric grid after last year’s freeze power failure, and the botched response to the deadly shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde.
“We need Beto, and we need smarter gun laws,” said Sandra Garcia, a mother of three who was waiting in an hourlong line to vote in Houston. “My kids shouldn’t have to be afraid that someone is going to come and shoot them at school.”
Despite O’Rourke’s spirited campaign, which has included frequent stops in deep-red rural counties, Abbott has remained formidable in a state where Republicans have won every governor’s race since 1994. The two campaigns combined have raised $220 million.
Biden allies insist midterms won’t influence re-election decision
BOWIE, Md. — On midterm election night, Joe Biden called to congratulate the victors he had campaigned for and was greeted with appreciation — and in some cases encouragement to mount a presidential bid against Donald Trump.
That was 2018.
It’s unlikely election night is going to be quite the same for him this go-round.
Democrats seem to be preparing themselves not for whether Tuesday night is going to be bad for them, but rather how bad.
Biden advisers touted the wins of candidates he had endorsed and stumped for in 2018 as they made an electability argument heading into 2020. Now, the president’s aides and advisers insist that Tuesday’s outcome — whatever it is — will not be a factor in his decision on whether to seek a second term in the White House.
Read the full story here.
Pennsylvania’s acting secretary of state dismisses Republican leaders’ claims of ‘unverified voters’
Pennsylvania’s acting secretary of state dismissed claims of “unverified voters” by the commonwealth’s GOP Senate leaders Monday.
In a letter provided to NBC News, Leigh Chapman, a Democrat, called the GOP senators’ concerns unfounded.
Chapman noted that after the state’s Supreme Court sided with the Republican National Committee by ordering local elections boards not to count undated mail-in ballots, the department emailed counties notifying them of the decision. She took aim at Republicans’ “conflicting reports” regarding mail-in ballots of “unverified voters” — a claim made in a letter to Chapman dated Friday — which he said were initially “parroted from internet election deniers.”
“Unverified ballots shall not be counted ‘unless the elector provided proof of identification, that can be verified by the county board, by the sixth calendar day following Election Day,’” Chapman wrote. She added, “As of today, there were fewer than 6,900 ballot applications statewide that still require voter identity verification as provided by law.”
“I again encourage the General Assembly when they return next session to prioritize making changes to allow counties meaningful pre-canvassing time in future elections,” she concluded.
Chapman’s letter was issued the same day a Democratic lawsuit filed in part by Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman’s campaign demanded that undated or incorrectly dated mail-in ballots be counted in the battleground state’s election.
Cyber agency in touch with Maricopa County over tabulation issues, senior official says
The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency is talking with Maricopa County over problems with some vote tabulation machines, a senior agency official told reporters this afternoon.
The official also stressed that none of the potential hitches so far in Tuesday’s election, including the difficulties in Arizona, amounted to a legitimate threat to its integrity. “We’ve seen a few of these today, as happens on every election day. None of this is out of the ordinary,” she said.
The CISA official, who requested to not be named as part of the terms of the call, expressed confidence in the state and local election officials, and said there remained no credible threat to actual election infrastructure or the vote count.
“Elected officials released video clearly explaining how voting machinery works, the layers of resiliency built into the voting process, and why Maricopa County voters can have confidence in their systems, and whether votes are counted in precincts or whether they’re counted centrally. The process is fully transparent and open to a bipartisan observers,” the official said.
“One of the great things about Arizona, it is an all paper ballot state,” the official said.
The official also confirmed that the agency has been in touch with Dominion Voting Systems, the maker of the machines used in Arizona. The official noted that Dominion is a member of the Election Sector Coordinating Council, a private-public election partnership group. “We’re in close touch with all of all of the members of the SCC,” she said.
Scattered reports of voter machine issues, but nothing out of the ordinary so far, election security expert says
There’s plenty of election left today, but various reports of voting machine issues don’t look like anything out of the ordinary, according to Eddie Perez, a board member at the Open Source Election Technology Institute, a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that advocates for election security and integrity.
“At this point, not only from a voting technology standpoint, but also given what we expected about disinformation, this seems about what we expected,” he said in a written message. “But it’s early, and we have a long way to go before we’re out of the woods.”
Hugging and cheering at the polls
Biden has traveled to 14 states since Labor Day, but avoided some key battlegrounds
Since the midterm elections began heating up just before Labor Day, President Joe Biden attended 15 events for gubernatorial candidates, 14 events for Senate candidates and 12 events for House candidates.
The events include five with Pennsylvania Senate candidate John Fetterman, three with New York Gov. Kathy Hochul and three with Pennsylvania gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro.
Biden did not travel to several key Senate battleground states, including Arizona, Nevada, Georgia, New Hampshire and North Carolina, during the final months of the midterms.
In that time, Biden has spent 25 days in his home state of Delaware —nearly all for holidays or weekends — eight days in Maryland (where Camp David is located), and seven days each in New York and Pennsylvania. He also spent five days in California; two days in Florida, Oregon and Illinois; and a day each in Colorado, Massachusetts, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and New Jersey.
Biden has never traveled to Kansas, Maine or Arizona — all gubernatorial battlegrounds — during his presidency.
In Houston, a local test of GOP’s national messaging on crime
HOUSTON — Hoping to capitalize on voter perceptions about rising crime in America’s third-most populous county, Republican donors have spent millions of dollars to regain control of Harris County, Texas, which includes Houston and its sprawling suburbs.
The fight for the county’s top elected position between two Hispanic women has been viewed as a test of whether GOP messaging on public safety is resonating among suburban voters who turned against then-President Donald Trump in 2020. County Judge Lina Hidalgo, a rising star in the Democratic Party who was swept into office in the blue wave of 2018, is locked in a tight race with Alexandra del Moral Mealer, a Republican and an Army veteran who has raised a record $8.6 million. She’s used that money to hammer Hidalgo on violent crime, which has increased in Harris County at a similar rate as other major cities since 2020 but is down somewhat this year.
Mealer’s messaging appears to be resonating with many voters in Houston, where neighborhoods are dotted with campaign signs that read, “Tired of Crime? Vote for Republican Judges.” Walter Sklenar, 69, a retired geologist, cast a ballot for Mealer on the first day of early voting. On Election Day, he stood outside a busy West Houston polling location holding a Mealer sign — the first time he’d volunteered for a campaign.
“The way things have been going in this county with crime, this election was too important,” Sklenar said. “I wanted to do whatever I could to get us to change course.”
Illinois county clerk’s office says it has been hit by cyberattack
The Champaign County Clerk’s Office, which manages elections for that county, is experiencing website slowdowns that it believes are due to a deliberate cyberattack, the Illinois county said Tuesday.
Such an attack wouldn’t impact voters’ ability to cast their ballots. But it can make accessing web services, like information on polling location, more difficult.
The office wrote on a statement posted to its Facebook account that it was experiencing a Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attack, a simple hacker technique to overwhelm a website with traffic, making it either slow to access or temporarily knocking it offline.
“These cyber-attacks are a strategic and coordinated effort to undermine and destabilize our democratic process,” it wrote. “The intent is to discourage you from voting. Please do not fall victim to this,” the post said.
“Please stay in line! Election judges and staff are doing everything they can to process voters according to the requirements of election law while navigating these attacks,” the post added. “Let me reiterate that we are committed to making sure every voter has a chance to cast their ballot so please stay in line.”
Philadelphia vote count facing delays following GOP challenge
PHILADELPHIA — Officials in Philadelphia voted at an emergency meeting Tuesday morning to reinstate a security measure that could dramatically slow vote counting in Pennsylvania‘s most populous city.
The Philadelphia elections board voted 2-1 at a city commissioners meeting around 7 a.m. following a lawsuit filed by a conservative group challenging their decision last week to do away with a time consuming process to prevent possible double votes from being counted.
“I want to make it very clear that when there are conversations that occur later this evening about whether or not Philadelphia has counted all of their ballots, that the reasons some ballots will not be counted is because Republican attorneys targeted Philadelphia, and only Philadelphia, in trying to force us to do a procedure that no other county does,” Seth Bluestein, the sole Republican commissioner, said before voting to reinstate the process.
The procedure, known as poll book reconciliation, requires temporarily halting vote counting to scan poll books into the voting system to ensure those who’ve voted in person did not also vote by mail.
Philadelphia is the only one of the 67 counties in the battleground state that will use the procedure during the count.
Read more here.
Wait times for Georgia voters averaging 3 minutes, elections official says
Voting has seemed to be a breeze for many Georgia counties, with wait times averaging around 3 minutes, a top elections official said Tuesday afternoon.
The longest line was in Stephens County at 13 minutes, followed by a precinct in Long County at 11 minutes, said Gabriel Sterling, the chief operating officer for the Secretary of State’s Office. Wilkinson County had one polling station with an 8-minute wait time.
“So far voting across Georgia has been spectacularly boring. Fingers crossed it stays that way,” Sterling tweeted.
When the polls opened Tuesday morning, the average statewide wait time was about 5 minutes.
Election to determine future of abortion access in North Carolina
North Carolina Republicans are poised to expand their hold on the House and the Senate into a supermajority this election, clearing the way to push through greater restrictions on abortion, a political expert said.
The state, which currently allows abortion up to 20 weeks, has seen a spike in the number of abortions in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to strike down Roe v. Wade. In the most recent legislative session, North Carolina lawmakers tried and failed to pass a law banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected, which is often before many women know they’re pregnant.
The state’s Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, signed an executive order in July to protect women who seek abortions in North Carolina from extradition to other states where abortion is considered a crime.
A Republican supermajority would mean they “will be able to pass almost any policy that they wanted to without getting a single Democrat on their side,” said Chris Cooper, the director of the Public Policy Institute at Western Carolina University. (He is unrelated to the governor.)
A shift on abortion policy would have effects that range beyond the state’s borders, Cooper said. Many states surrounding North Carolina have either banned abortion outright or limited it to just a few weeks after conception. From April through August, the state saw a 37% rise in abortions, the highest increase of any state according to the Society of Family Planning.
GOP politicians and pundits seize on Maricopa issues with some spreading misleading or false information
Various GOP politicians and pundits have seized on voting machine issues in Maricopa County, Arizona, with some pointing to the situation to perpetuate doubts about the security of U.S. elections.
Discussion around the voting machine issues spread quickly as Charlie Kirk, founder of the conservative youth activism group Turning Point USA, tweeted about the situation, according to the Election Integrity Partnership, a coalition or research organizations focused on elections.
“Spread of the story on major platforms is a mixture of misleading framing and factual reporting,” the group said on Twitter. “Conversations range from legitimate critiques of voting infrastructure, calls to encourage voting in the state, to misleading narratives around planned election fraud.”
The word “cheating” trended on Twitter on Tuesday morning, with some accounts amplifying a burgeoning right-wing conspiracy theory that sought to cast doubts on election results in Arizona. The conspiracy theory draws from a single video in Anthem, Arizona, in which an election worker informed a crowd that two vote tabulators were not working. The election worker told the crowd to place their ballots in “Box 3,” where they would get counted manually or later fed into the tabulator, a routine way to count ballots in the case of a tabulator outage.
Elections officials in Maricopa later posted a video explaining the issues around the voting machines and assuring the public that they were working on a fix. Election officials have clarified that the issues in Maricopa are with the machines that count votes, and that any ballots filled out and deposited into the ballot boxes will be counted.
But that video and other issues in Maricopa have fueled some unfounded claims, most notably around “Box 3.” Several prominent GOP Twitter accounts shared the video, including GOP gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake and Arizona GOP chairwoman Kelli Ward, tweeting an image with language telling voters to “not put your ballot in Box 3.” Both Lake and Ward have disputed the results of the 2020 election. The “Box 3” issue was also posted to the far-right extremist site The Donald on Tuesday, where it was pinned to the top of the message board.
About 3,600 ballots being questioned, Philadelphia mayor’s office says
Nearly 3,600 mail-in ballots in Philadelphia are being questioned because they are lacking proper signatures, dates or were unassigned, a spokesperson for Mayor Jim Kenney told NBC News.
The development comes a day after a Democratic lawsuit filed in part by Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman’s campaign demanded that undated or incorrectly dated mail-in ballots be counted in the battleground state’s election.
The lawsuit, which names the state’s 67 county election boards as defendants, argues that a provision in state law requiring that mail-in ballots include the date on the outside of the envelopes violates federal law.
Civil rights groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union and the NAACP, filed a similar complaint Friday against state election officials.
The legal fight came after the state’s high court sided with the Republican National Committee by ordering local elections boards not to count the ballots in question.
Nevada Democrats attempt to defy gravity with aggressive ground game
LAS VEGAS — Hundreds of union members supporting Democrats rallied at 6 a.m. on Election Day with the major candidates across the ballot, pledging to defy economic forces and beat the GOP with an aggressive ground game.
Culinary Union workers, made up of hotel employees, bartenders, restaurant workers and other service industry laborers, converged in an energetic rally, chanting “si se puede!” and “We vote, we win!” before dispersing into the neighborhoods to get out the vote.
“We’re gonna make history today,” Culinary Union secretary-treasurer Ted Pappageorge said in an interview. “I think winning in a midterm with Democrats in power means we will have made history.”
Democrats nationally are bracing for the possibility of a harsh rebuke from voters because of high inflation and gas prices, and voters historically have blamed the party in charge for economic woes. But Democrats here are attempting to fight those headwinds by talking to voters at the doors. The Culinary Union says its unleashed its largest on-the-ground action this midterm election, expected to hit 1 million doors by day’s end. In Nevada, Democratic Gov. Steve Sisolak and Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto are battling to keep their seats against Republican candidates Joe Lombardo and Adam Laxalt, respectively.
Tech workers dispatched to fix vote tabulators in Arizona’s largest county
Technicians have been dispatched in Maricopa County polling sites to determine why vote tabulation machines in about 1 out of every 5 locations are unable to read ballots, county Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates said Tuesday.
“At a few of these locations, maybe every fifth or fourth ballot is not being accepted into the tabulator,” Gates told NBC News.
Voters at polling sites where machines are malfunctioning have the option to either drop their ballots in a secure box to be counted later in the day or go to another location. When asked about whether the technical issues are further fueling distrust in the election system, Gates pointed to the options that Maricopa County voters have to ensure their ballots are counted.
“We have hiccups,” he added. “They had a hiccup with the Powerball drawing last night, right? These things happen, but I would say to them, actually this should make them feel good because they see the type of redundancies that we have in place.”
Josh Shapiro says he ‘feels really good’ after casting his vote
Speaking with reporters after casting his vote, Pennsylvania Democratic gubernatorial candidate Josh Shapiro said he “feels really good” about his campaign.
Shapiro said he is “incredibly humbled” about his coalition, which he said brought on Republicans who oppose GOP challenger Doug Mastriano’s election denying rhetoric.
“It’s a coalition that will, God willing, not only help us win today, but help us govern in the future and bring people together and really solve problems,” Shapiro said.
Asked about a potential change in his campaign strategy given that he and Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman, who is locked in a tight race against Republican Mehmet Oz, did not campaign together until more recently, Shapiro dismissed the notion, saying that their campaigns have been collaborating.
“John and I have been together at different times throughout this process,” he said. “We’ve run a coordinated campaign together and, correct me if I’m wrong, I think we were together three times this past week.”
Security at a polling station in Bryn Athyn, Pa.
Louisiana polling place moved after bomb threat
A polling place in Louisiana was moved from one school to another Tuesday after a bomb threat, according to John Tobler, the deputy secretary of communications and outreach at the Louisiana Department of State.
Tobler said that the threat was made against Kenner Discovery, a school located about 20 minutes outside New Orleans. The new polling location is an elementary school in the same precinct called Audubon Elementary.
A representative of the Kenner Police Department said that Kenner Discovery also received a bomb threat five days ago. Middle school and high school students were evacuated that day and local police and fire departments searched the campus.
Voters cast their ballots at polling sites across the country
NAACP files lawsuit over alleged voter intimidation in majority Black Texas precinct
The NAACP has sued Jefferson County, Texas, in federal court for alleged voter intimidation at a community center in Beaumont, a majority Black precinct.
The lawsuit, filed in federal district court Friday, alleges that white poll workers throughout early voting repeatedly asked only Black voters “in aggressive tones” to recite “out loud within the earshot of other voters, poll workers, and poll watchers, their addresses, even when the voter was already checked in by a poll worker.”
The NAACP also alleged that white poll workers and poll watchers followed Black voters, and in some cases, their assistants, around the polling place, “including standing two feet behind a Black voter and the assistant, while the voter was at the machine casting a ballot.”
Additionally, white poll workers allegedly helped white voters scan their voted ballots into voting machines, but did not similarly help Black voters with that task.
Unless this court takes action, defendants “will continue to violate operate the Community Center with racially discriminatory intent, thereby preventing Black voters like plaintiffs from receiving equal treatment while trying to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” the lawsuit said.
Arizona’s largest county reports issues with voting machines
Vote tabulation machines in about 20% of polling locations in Maricopa County are having technical issues and are unable to read ballots, election officials said Tuesday.
“We’re trying to fix this problem as quickly as possible,” Maricopa County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Gates said in a video shared on Twitter.
In an attempt to combat misinformation, the Maricopa County Recorder’s Office said voters at polling sites with tabulator issues could either place their completed ballots in a secure box on site to be counted later or they could vote at another location.
“If there are lines at the location you’re at or issues with the tabulator, if you would prefer to go to another location, you can do that,” Gates said. “It doesn’t matter where you go, as long as you’re a registered voter in Maricopa County.”
Maricopa County uses paper ballots, and election officials said about 44,000 people voted as of Tuesday morning.
‘Technical issues’ with Louisiana voting portal, app are resolved, secretary of state says
The “technical issues” facing the Louisiana voter portal and Geaux Vote app “have been resolved,” Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin tweeted Tuesday morning. The app and portal had been down for part of the morning and the state’s election hotline also briefly experienced issues.
Why does it take so long to count ballots?
WASHINGTON — When the polls close, the wait begins — and you may want to get comfortable, because it could take a while before we know the winners and losers.
State election officials are reminding voters that it’s normal for it to take days or even weeks to know the outcome — it took five days for Joe Biden to be declared the winner in 2020, and some races took even longer. But they say that’s the cost of making sure every vote is counted accurately in America’s highly decentralized elections.
“It takes time to accurately tabulate millions of ballots,” two groups that represent the country’s secretaries of state and election directors said in a joint statement Monday. “We implore voters and members of the media to allow election officials to do their work.”
The process is painstaking. To ensure security and avoid hacks, some jurisdictions require ballot boxes to be physically collected by truck or even helicopter, while others require poll workers to drive through the night with vote data on memory cards. It is also sometimes necessary to track down individual voters to make sure their votes are counted correctly.
Here are some reasons we might be waiting.
Intelligence and law enforcement agencies gear up for potential election threats
U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies are gearing up for a panoply of potential threats to the election, including extremist violence, cyberattacks, social media disinformation and voter intimidation.
“I think we’re as prepared as we possibly could be,” one Justice Department official said, while adding that despite months of planning and tabletop exercises, people are “anxious and on edge.”
The FBI’s public corruption and civil rights section will be handling voter and ballot fraud, potential civil rights violations and campaign finance issues, as will the threat to election workers task force. As of a month ago, that task force had received about 1,000 tips, and about 11% of those met the threshold to be investigated as a federal crime.
The FBI said the threats are highest in states in which then-President Donald Trump contested the 2020 election results, including Arizona, Colorado, Georgia, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nevada and Wisconsin.
Additionally, each FBI field office will deploy two election crime coordinators to handle operational and intelligence components. Those officials will liaise with local and state law enforcement partners to investigate any physical or cyberthreats to polling places, among other things.
Pennsylvania Senate candidates Oz and Fetterman arrive to cast their ballots
N.C. voters reporting harassment and intimidation at polling stations, election officials say
North Carolina voters are reporting possible harassment and intimidation at polling stations, according to an early incident report from the state board of elections.
In New Hanover, students allegedly were harassed while walking to class from a voting site, and an observer allegedly “angrily” confronted an election official, the board reported.
In Columbus County, election officials allegedly were harassed by an “observer following one-stop workers” and photographing or filming the workers, it said.
Other allegations include curbside voters in Wake being photographed as they waited to cast ballots and electioneers in Harnett allegedly “videotaping voters coming and going and informing the voters they were being recorded,” the board reported.
Pat Gannon, a spokesperson for the board, told a local NBC affiliate that the incidents are “isolated” and law enforcement is monitoring them. The Department of Justice also announced plans to be on-site in 24 states on Election Day to ensure voter rights are protected.
Arizona flags 18 cases of alleged voter intimidation
At least 18 cases of alleged voter intimidation across Arizona have been referred to local and federal law enforcement agencies for review since the start of early voting Oct. 12, the secretary of state’s office said Tuesday.
Those voters described feeling intimidated at ballot drop box sites when voting early, with some complaining that they were being watched with binoculars or that they were approached by people claiming to be with “election security” and who took pictures of their license plates and cars.
“Voters should be able to cast their ballot without fear of intimidation,” said Sophia Solis, a spokeswoman for Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, who is also the Democratic candidate for governor in Arizona.
Top Georgia election official says new record already set for absentee votes
In-person voting just kicked off in the battleground state, but a new record has already been set for absentee ballots during a midterm election cycle, according to Gabriel Sterling, a top official in the Office of Georgia Secretary of State.
“As we start Election Day, 2,524,193 Georgians have already cast their votes and we set a new record (that will grow) for absentee votes in a midterm of 234,347,” Sterling tweeted at 7 a.m. ET.
Louisiana voting portal, app, hotline ‘experiencing technical difficulties’
The Louisiana “GeauxVote” app, online portal and elections hotline “are currently experiencing technical difficulties,” Louisiana Secretary of State Kyle Ardoin tweeted Tuesday morning.
He later instructed voters to use the hotline while the site continued to have problems.
The GeauxVote portal and app allow Louisiana voters to check what’s on their ballot, register to vote or change their voter registration information, check voting locations and view election results.
Voters line up to cast their ballots in Warwick, R.I.
U.S. cyber watchdog sees no imminent threats
The top U.S. infrastructure defense agency sees no major cyber threats to the election as Americans head to the polls Tuesday morning, a senior U.S. official said.
In the first of three Election Day calls with reporters, a senior official from the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, who requested to not be named, said the agency has spent much of the past two years helping state and local election officials prepare, and that the agency knew of “no specific or credible threats to disrupt election infrastructure today.”
That’s not a guarantee that the election won’t see hitches, though, the official said.
“There are 8,800 election jurisdictions and we see issues pop up every election day,” the official said, citing low-level cyberattacks against election websites or accidental website outages as potential examples.
“It’s important to remember that such incidents would not affect a person’s ability to cast a ballot,” the official said
Voting machines down in Trenton
All voting machines are currently down across Mercer County, New Jersey, home of the state capital, Trenton, according to local officials.
Voters should still go to their registered polling station as planned, where they can cast their vote on a standard ballot and post it into the machine’s emergency slot, according to a message to residents of West Windsor posted to the township’s website Tuesday morning.
“The Board of Elections has advised the county of issues with voting machines. Poll workers will be on hand to walk voters through the process. The board is working with Dominion, the machine maker, to resolve the issue,” officials wrote in a statement on the county’s Facebook page.
Sunny weather in most battleground states on Election Day
It’s a bright and sunny Election Day in many battleground states!
Sunny forecasts are in store for New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Georgia and Arizona, with sun and clouds in North Carolina.
But rain is in the forecast for Wisconsin, and in Nevada the precipitation could include snow.
The Northeast is forecast to have bright sunshine and seasonable temperatures as voters cast their ballots, while the Great Lakes region will have sun and clouds.
Weather in the Southeast is expected to be sunny and warm, with some isolated storms across Florida as Subtropical Storm Nicole approaches the Sunshine State’s east coast.
Wisconsin judge won’t order sequestering of absentee ballots
MADISON, Wis. — A Wisconsin judge on Monday, less than 14 hours before polls opened, refused to order that military absentee ballots be pulled aside and sequestered until it can be verified that they were cast legally, saying that would be a “drastic remedy” that could disenfranchise voters.
The Republican chair of the Wisconsin Assembly’s elections committee along with a veterans group and other voters sued on Friday, seeking a court order to sequester the ballots.
Waukesha County Circuit Judge Michael Maxwell denied that request for a temporary restraining order in a ruling from the bench following a two-hour hearing Monday afternoon.
“That just seems to be a drastic remedy,” he said of sequestering the ballots.
Read the full story here.
The 2022 midterms are shaping up to culminate in an unpredictable election night, with recent surveys showing close fights in a host of key races that will determine which party controls Congress.
A few points in either direction, within the margin of error in many polls, could be the difference between Democrats overperforming to hold at least one chamber for the next two years — and Republicans running the table with commanding victories.
In the 50-50 Senate, Republicans need a net gain of just one seat to capture the majority. In the House, Republicans have 212 members and need to add six to guarantee a majority.
Here’s a guide to some of the competitive races in which polls close early, which election forecasters say will carry a larger significance in reading the direction of the political environment.
Read the full story here.
Judge rejects GOP nominee’s request to toss absentee ballots
Wayne County Circuit Judge Timothy Kenny ruled Monday night that a lawsuit by Kristina Karamo, the GOP nominee for secretary of state, to change Detroit’s absentee voting protocols ahead of the midterm elections was a “false flag” that sought to “demonize” election workers in the city.
Karamo sued Detroit City Clerk Janice Winfrey last week to toss absentee ballots unless voters present identification, alleging election law violations regarding the counting of the ballots.
In his ruling, Kenny said Karamo’s request would present a “clear violation” of constitutional rights, adding that her claims sowing doubt on the legitimacy of absentee voting were “unsubstantiated and/or misinterpret Michigan election law.”
“While it is easy to hurl accusations of violations of law and corruption, it is another matter to come forward and produce the evidence our Constitution and laws require,” Kenny wrote. “Plaintiffs failed, in a full day evidentiary hearing, to produce any shreds of evidence.”
How the NBC News Decision Desk calls races on midterm election night 2022
Here’s how NBC News calls races on election night, the steps it takes to verify results and the answers to some frequently asked questions, such as:
How does NBC News project the outcomes of races?
What kinds of calls and characterizations does the Decision Desk make?
How will NBC News call control of the Senate?
What is the House Estimate, and how will NBC News project control of the chamber?
Read the full story here.
Highlights from Monday
Just catching up? Here’s what you missed from Monday:
- President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump each delivered closing arguments to voters at campaign events in Maryland and Ohio, respectively. Trump teased a major announcement Nov. 15.
- Cobb County agreed to extend the deadline until Nov. 14 for Georgia voters who did not receive requested absentee ballots and who have not voted in person.
- A legal fight exploded in Pennsylvania over mail-in ballots.
- The Supreme Court dismissed a Republican challenge to this year’s congressional district maps in Michigan.