Reports indicate that registered Democrats have so far outvoted registered Republicans – casting more than double the number of ballots. And of these early voting Democrats, women and black Americans are voting in particularly high numbers. Some are motivated by dislike for President Donald Trump, while others have been energized by racial justice protests throughout the summer following the police killing of George Floyd in Minnesota.
However, this early advantage does not mean that Democrats can already claim victory. Republicans, who claim postal voting is vulnerable to fraud, say Democrats may win the early vote, but that Republicans will show up in large numbers on Election Day.
According to a 2017 study by the Brennan Center for Justice, the rate of voting fraud overall in the US is between 0.00004% and 0.0009%.
The enormous numbers of voters have led to long queues, with some people waiting for up to 11 hours for an opportunity to vote.
Younger people, who historically have been difficult to get to the polls, appear to be turning out in larger numbers this year. The youth vote may be the highest it’s been since 2008 for the election of Barack Obama – the US’s first black president.
A recent survey by Axios found that four in ten university students said they planned to protest if President Trump wins. Six in ten said they would shame friends who could vote but choose not to.
By contrast, only 3% of surveyed students said they would protest if Joe Biden was elected.
Justin Timberlake encourages people to vote while taking a selfie at a polling station in Tennessee.
But he has been spared a brush with the law after the picture he posted of himself voting caught the attention of Tennessee authorities.
Justin Timberlake uploaded a picture to Instagram of him casting a ballot in Memphis.
It became illegal to take photos inside polling locations in Tennessee in 2015.
Justin Timberlake flew from LA to his hometown of Memphis to cast an early ballot ahead of the November 8 election.
Image source Instagram
Earlier, the District Attorney’s office said it had been “made aware of a possible violation of state election law” and the matter was “under review”.
However, in a second statement, Shelby County District Attorney Amy Weirich said the initial response was “incorrect” and “released without my knowledge,” according to Local Memphis.
“I am out of town at a conference. No one in our office is currently investigating this matter nor will we be using our limited resources to do so,” she said.
Justin Timberlake is one of a few million voters who have cast early ballots in a number of states.
In his Instagram caption, he wrote to his 37 million followers: “No excuses, my good people!
“There could be early voting in your town too. If not, November 8th! Choose to have a voice! If you don’t, then we can’t HEAR YOU! Get out and VOTE!”
Any charge would have been considered a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail or a fine of $50, or both.
Adam Ghassemi, a spokesman for the Tennessee Secretary of State, said people should only use their phones for help with voting.
But he added that officials are “thrilled Justin can’t stop the feeling” – which is a reference to the title of the singer’s latest song.
Justin Timberlake also took a few moments outside the polling booth to snap some selfies with his fans.
It is illegal to take a photograph in a voting booth in 18 states, according to the Associated Press.
However, it is legal to take a photo in about 20 states and the District of Columbia.
On October 24, a federal court sided with a Michigan man who said the law there that bans voters from taking pictures of their marked ballots and sharing them on social media violated his constitutional right to free speech.
In response, the court halted enforcement of the law.
Also on October 24, two voters in Colorado filed a federal lawsuit seeking to overturn a state law that criminalized showing a completed ballot to others, arguing the ban was unconstitutional.
Tens of millions of Americans head to the polls on Tuesday to decide whether to re-elect President Barack Obama or hand the job to Republican Mitt Romney.
The voting ends a hard-fought race that began nearly two years ago and has cost more than $2 billion.
Polls will begin closing in eastern states at 19:00 EST – a winner could be known by midnight.
Polls show the race is neck and neck, although the president holds a slender polling lead in crucial swing states.
National polls by Washington Post/ABC News and the Pew Research Centre both give Barack Obama a three-point edge over his rival.
As many as 30 million voters have already cast their ballots, with more than 30 states allowing either absentee voting or in-person early voting.
On the stroke of midnight, the first votes were cast and quickly counted in the tiny village of Dixville Notch in New Hampshire. They resulted in a tie with five votes each for Barack Obama and Mitt Romney.
Barack Obama has already voted in his adopted hometown of Chicago, becoming the first sitting presidential candidate ever to vote early. Mitt Romney is expected to cast his own ballot in Belmont, Massachusetts, later on Tuesday.
The election is decided by the electoral college. Each state is given a number of electoral votes in rough proportion to its population. The candidate who wins 270 electoral votes – by prevailing in the mostly winner-take-all state contests – becomes president.
Tens of millions of Americans head to the polls on Tuesday to decide whether to re-elect President Barack Obama or hand the job to Republican Mitt Romney
Also on Tuesday’s ballot are a handful of state governors, one third of the seats in the 100-member US Senate and all 435 seats in the House of Representatives.
Republicans are expected to keep control of the House, while Democrats were tipped to do the same in the Senate.
The presidential candidates spent Monday frantically criss-crossing the crucial battleground states including Ohio, Florida, Iowa and Virginia, making final appeals to voters. Their task: Push their own supporters to the polls while persuading the sliver of undecided voters to back them.
In speeches, Mitt Romney kept up his attack on Barack Obama’s record, reciting a litany of statistics he says illustrate the president has failed to lift the US economy out of the worst downturn since the Great Depression that followed the stock market crash of 1929.
“If you believe we can do better, if you believe America should be on a better course, if you’re tired of being tired… then I ask you to vote for real change,” Mitt Romney told a rally in a Virginia suburb of the capital, Washington DC.
The president appeared at rallies with singer Bruce Springsteen and rapper Jay-Z. He acknowledged frustration with the still-lagging economy but told voters “our work is not done yet”.
“We’ve come too far to turn back now,” the president said in Ohio.
“We’ve come too far to let our hearts grow faint… We’ll finish what we started. We’ll renew those ties that bind us together and reaffirm the spirit that makes the United States of America the greatest nation on Earth.”
With observers anticipating a close race, both sides have readied teams of lawyers for possible legal fights, especially in the critical battleground state of Ohio.
Some analysts fear the election will not be decided on Tuesday night if the state’s vote becomes mired in legal battles.
On Tuesday Mitt Romney is to hit the campaign trail again with events in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Cleveland, Ohio, before holding an election night rally in Boston.
Barack Obama will hold his own election night rally at a convention centre in Chicago.
As the East Coast tries to get back on its feet after the damage from Hurricane Sandy, New Jersey has announced that residents can vote by email in the upcoming presidential election.
Flooding, damaged roads and power outages have forced many Jerseyites from their homes and the electronic option will allow first responders who are working away from home and those displaced by the storm to cast their ballot.
Hurricane Sandy, that barreled down on New Jersey and New York on October 29, has claimed 110 lives, displaced thousands and left millions without power for days.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his counterpart in New York, Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have been reviewing how to prepare their respective states for November 6 – while simultaneously trying to restore electricity and access to food and water.
Both states have asked power companies to prioritize electricity to polling stations this coming Tuesday.
New Jersey will allow any state resident that has been displaced by the storm to qualify as an overseas voter, meaning they can submit their ballot by fax or email.
New Jersey residents told they can vote via email as the Northeast scrambles to prepare polling stations after Sandy
Governor Chris Christie also mandated that county clerks open their offices over the weekend to allow early voting and has called for paper ballots to be sent to polling stations still without power.
“Time on your hands? Tired of cleaning stuff up? Go there in person, you’ll get a ballot, you vote and hand it in and you’re done,” Chris Christie said at a press conference, encouraging residents to not let the storm prevent them from exercising their right to vote.
“There’s no reason why anybody shouldn’t vote. We’re going to have a full, fair, transparent, open voting process,” he added.
New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has tried to address the issue of polling station power availability but told reporters that the Board of Elections has jurisdiction over those centers.
“They have known for six days now that we were going to have some problems and hopefully they had backup plans anyway,” he said, casting some doubt on their preparedness though much of the city will likely have power by next Tuesday.
Many counties in upstate New York are still without power but officials have noted that paper ballots are primarily used, so the power outage should not impact a person’s ability to vote but access to polling stations might be a difficulty for many voters.
After the storm swept through the East Coast, local officials assessed the damage and some actually wondered if the destruction was severe enough to merit the postponement of the presidential election.
But the idea was dismissed given the limited geographic scope of the storm and the monumental impact of rescheduling the decision day for the U.S. Commander in Chief.
Changing the date of a national Election Day, which has never actually occurred before, can only occur by an act of Congress, according to legislation from 1845.
One week before a close election, Superstorm Sandy has confounded the presidential race, halted early voting in many areas and led some to ponder whether the election might even be postponed.
It could take days to restore electricity to more than 8 million homes and businesses that lost power when the storm pummeled the East Coast – leading experts to question whether the election can be put back from November 6th.
While the answer is of course yes in theory, the probability of the choice between Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama being postponed is unlikely despite the devastating effect Hurricane Sandy had on 60 million people across the north-east, or one-sixth of the population.
But as the storm left its trail of destruction behind, even some of those intimately involved in the election seemed in the dark about what options are available to cope with the storm.
Asked Monday whether President Barack Obama had the power to reschedule the election, White House press secretary Jay Carney said he wasn’t sure.
However, constitutionally, the President doesn’t set the date for the election, Congress does.
Congress could act within the next week to change the date, but that would be tough because lawmakers are on recess and back home in their districts campaigning for re-election.
Plus, it’s likely that would mean changing the date for the entire country, not just those affected by the storm.
What’s more, Congress only selects the date for federal elections, so changing the date would wreak havoc for state and local elections also scheduled for November 6th.
Election Day could be postponed due to Hurricane Sandy
“For those states that don’t already have an election emergency process in place, any departure from the established election process could easily give rise to court challenges about the legitimacy of the election,” said Steven Huefner, professor at Ohio State’s Moritz College of Law to ABC News.
“Even states with an emergency plan might find themselves facing litigation over specific ways in which they’ve implemented their emergency plan.”
Some have asked if it is likely for the election to go ahead but to allow New Jersey and New York to vote at a different time afterwards.
That is possible, but the legal issues get tricky. States, by and large, are in charge of their own elections.
Each state has its own laws dealing with what to do if an emergency jeopardizes voting and who can make the call.
Federal law says that if a state fails to conduct an election for federal races on the day Congress chooses, the state legislature can pick a later date.
Nevertheless, experts told ABC News that even minor contingency arrangements, like keeping polls open longer in some precincts or moving polling locations, will probably lead to legal challenges and more provisional voting, which can delay election results.
But state and federal laws don’t always jive perfectly. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell has said his state’s laws don’t grant him authority to reschedule the presidential election.
Despite no presidential election ever being postponed, some are pointing to past precedents where voting has been delayed.
New York City was holding its mayoral primary when terrorists struck on September 11, 2001, and the city rescheduled the election.
After Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Louisiana’s governor postponed municipal elections in New Orleans after elections officials said polling places wouldn’t be ready.
However, what is most likely is a compromise for those affected by the havoc caused by the storm.
Voting hours could be extended at various locations and in places where electronic voting machines are in use, paper ballots could be used instead.
Some areas also might choose to move polling locations if existing ones are damaged, inaccessible or won’t have power on Election Day.
But even amending Election Day to accommodate the affected would create problems in themselves.
If poll hours are extended, under a 2002 law passed by Congress in response to the disputed 2000 presidential election, any voters who show up outside of regular hours must use provisional ballots, which are counted later and could be challenged.
Hurricane Sandy’s impact was felt in some of the most competitive states in the presidential race, including Virginia and Ohio.
The more provisional ballots that are cast, the greater the chances are that the winner won’t be known until days or even weeks after the election.
There’s another issue if poll hours are extended in some areas – such as counties with the worst storm damage – and not in others.
That could prompt lawsuits under the Constitution’s Equal Protection Clause, said Edward Foley, an election law expert at The Ohio State University.
Relocating polling places is also risky because it could drive down turnout, said Neil Malhotra, a political economist at Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business.
“If you disrupt their routine and the polling place they’ve always been going to, even if you don’t move it very far, they vote less,” he said.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s administrator, Craig Fugate, said Monday he anticipated the storm’s impact could linger into next week and affect the election.
He said FEMA would look at what support it could provide to states before the election.
“This will be led by the states,” Craig Fugate said.
According to a new poll released last night, Republican Mitt Romney is winning the White House race among Americans who have already voted.
Mitt Romney has opened up a seven point lead among the 15% who have cast their votes early.
Pollster Gallup says Mitt Romney has more ballots in the bank than President Barack Obama by a margin of 52% to 45%.
As many as a third of Americans are likely to go to the polls before Election Day on November 6.
Gallup still has the two candidates in a dead heat at 49% among likely voters as the race enters its final week.
With Hurricane Sandy throwing both men’s campaigns into chaos, the early voters could prove to be even more crucial in the final outcome than in previous years.
Barack Obama and Mitt Romney both called off rallies yesterday as Hurricane Sandy bore down on East Coast.
The president cancelled a planned appearance in Orlando, Florida to return to Washington and monitor the weather crisis. He also shelved a trip to Green Bay, Wisconsin scheduled for Tuesday.
Mitt Romney followed suit, pulling out of all campaigning yesterday evening and throughout Tuesday, along with his running mate Paul Ryan.
According to a new poll released last night, Republican Mitt Romney is winning the White House race among Americans who have already voted
Damage from the storm is projected at around $18 billion and Barack Obama has declared it a “major disaster”.
But neither rival could afford to totally shut down operations. The political barbs continued in campaign ads and between aides trying to show the upper hand in a race as tight as ever.
At a White House press conference on Monday Barack Obama dismissed a question about how the hurricane will affect the election, saying: “I’m not worried about the impact on the election. The election will take care of itself next week.”
At a campaign event in Iowa, Michelle Obama said of her husband: “He has made this storm his priority, and he is going to do whatever it takes to make sure the American people are safe and secure.”
Republican Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell said his state plans to extend early voting hours and restore power quickly to election facilities in the event of outages.
Officials in neighboring Maryland said early voting stations were closed yesterday.
Officials from both campaigns said they were confident they would be able to get their message out and drive voters to the polls over the coming days. But they recognized that, after years of obsessive planning and nearly $2 billion in campaign expenditures, the storm had introduced a last-minute element of chaos.
“There’s certain things we can’t control and nature is one of them. We try to focus on the things that we can control,” said Mitt Romney adviser Kevin Madden.
There is some evidence that natural disasters can hurt an incumbent’s re-election chances as voters often blame whoever is in office for adversity.
When President Barack Obama flew to Chicago to cast his vote early in Chicago on Thursday, he became one of over 8 million Americans to have already made their decision for the November election.
And now with the election just ten days away, early results from those polls are giving both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney cause to claim victory – despite neither campaign having established a distinct advantage.
In encouraging results, Barack Obama appears to be matching his 2008 presidential victory totals across the country, but Mitt Romney is exceeding Senator John McCain’s efforts and appears to be already ahead in key state Florida.
Early voting results released so far show success in Florida for Mitt Romney but encouragement for Barack Obama in North Carolina
• Colorado: 325,810 votes have been cast so far – 126,539 from Republicans and 120,965 from Democrats and 75,030 from unaffiliated voters
• Florida: 925,604 votes as mail-in-absentee ballots have been cast – 414,016 from Republicans and 363,881 from Democrats. In person early voting begins today in the Sunshine State
• Iowa: 399 ballots have been cast – 183,780 for Democrats and 126,872 from Republicans. In this key state in 2008, Democrats had a 24-percent point lead and this year that lead is eight percent.
• Nevada: 218, 616 votes have been cast so far – 101,935 for Republicans and 79,059 for Democrats
• Ohio: 808,051 ballots have been cast so far in Ohio – but party affiliation is not revealed
• Virginia: 247,862 votes have been cast so far in Virginia which does not reveal party affiliation
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