TheGrio’s 2018 Midterm Election Blog: What Black America Needs to Know

TheGrio presents comprehensive coverage, video interviews and real-time results of the midterm elections. Senior editor Demetria Irwin is reporting live from Atlanta with the Stacey Abrams campaign, and Deputy Editor Natasha Alford is tracking Florida's race embedded with the Andrew Gillum campaign.

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TheGrio presents comprehensive coverage, video interviews and real-time results of the midterm elections. Senior editor Demetria Irwin is reporting live from Atlanta with the Stacey Abrams campaign and Deputy Editor Natasha Alford is tracking Florida’s race embedded with the Andrew Gillum campaign. Follow all the news in our midterms blog and on Twitter and Instagram.

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9:15 am

The morning after the election, Georgia has no declared winner in governor’s race

Georgia voters woke up the day after the election without a clear winner in the gubernatorial election. It is too close to call and thousands of absentee and provisional ballots have yet to be counted.  In the wee hours of the morning, the number of votes separating Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp was under 90,000 votes. This is in an election where 3.8 million votes were cast.

The Abrams campaign election night watch party stretched well past midnight with a packed room of excited supporters. Even though people left without being able to say “Governor Abrams,” there was still of feeling of optimism.

Around 4 am, the Abrams campaign issued a number of highlights about the status of the election:

• More than 3.8 million votes were cast in this election, a dramatic increase over the 2.5 million that were cast in 2014, and 94% of the votes cast in the 2016 Presidential race in Georgia.

• As of 4:00 AM EST there is a difference of 85,167 votes separating Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams, which represents just over two percent of the votes cast.

• To trigger a runoff, the Abrams campaign needs to net from 24,379 votes out of the tens of thousands of potential ballots that remain outstanding.

The statement also noted that “Machine breakdowns and shoddy election administration on the part of Secretary of State Brian Kemp contributed to the exceedingly large number of provisional and paper ballots.”

-Demetria Irwin

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2:48 a.m.

Stacey Abrams refuses to concede hotly contested Georgia governor race: “Votes remain to be counted”

Gubernatorial candidate, Stacey Abrams has put up quite a fight against her opponent, Republican Brian Kemp. By early Wednesday morning, she was trailing Kemp 48 to 51 percent with 97 percent of precincts reporting. However, she delivered a powerful speech that proved she hasn’t counted herself out of the hotly contested race.

“I want to say this: if I wasn’t your first choice or if you made no choice at all, you’re gonna have a chance to do a do-over,” she said. “Votes remain to be counted, there are voices that remain to be heard…We believe our chance for a stronger Georgia is within reach.”

The speech came shortly after Abrams’ campaign manager told the crowd at their watch party, “More than 3.7 million Georgians have cast a ballot which is 1.2 million more than 2014. The returns are coming in slowly. Nearly all of the outstanding votes that remain to be counted are from Democratic strongholds. We also know that there are tens of thousands of absentee ballots around the state, many of them we believe are Abrams voters and they have yet to be counted as well.”

Clearly, Stacey Abrams and her team are not convinced that she has lost the race and confirmed she plans to wait until every vote is counted. This is a smart move, given the controversy behind Kemp’s refusal to recuse himself as Secretary of State or the state’s chief election officer, essentially running an election that he’s running in. As well, Abrams and others have accused Kemp of voter suppression tactics to give himself the upper hand.

In her impassioned speech, Abrams went on to say, “When you chose me as your Democratic nominee, I made you a vow,” she said. “In our Georgia, no one would be unseen, no one is unheard and no one is uninspired…Tonight, we have closed the gap between yesterday and tomorrow, but we still have a few more miles to go.”

“Every vote’s getting counted,” she repeated. “Because I’ll tell you this in a civilized nation, the machinery of democracy should work for everyone, everywhere not just in certain places and not just on a certain day…It is my mission to serve you, to serve Georgia, to make you proud…and for those who didn’t pick me the first time, to change your mind about me and what we can accomplish together.”

If elected, Abrams would be the first Black woman Governor in the country.

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1:05 a.m.

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf has early lead

Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf is leading in the early vote as she attempts to hold on to her position.

Schaaf had 65 percent of the vote with 17 percent of precincts reporting.

If Schaaf is re-elected, she will be the first Oakland mayor to secure a second term since Jerry Brown.

Nine candidates ran against the incumbent mayor who has been vocal in her criticism of Trump. Her two biggest contenders are civil rights attorney Pamela Price and activist, Cat Brooks who is her closest competitor with 16 percent of the votes.

Oakland has adopted “ranked choice voting,” meaning constituents select up to three preferred candidates. If none of them receive a majority of votes among No. 1 picks, then the candidate with the fewest first-choice votes is eliminated and that person’s votes are redistributed to the No. 2 choices on those ballots.

The process continues until someone wins a majority.

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12:40 a.m.

Attention turns to key races in the West 

There are still a few races to watch in the west where Democrats stand to increase their majority in the house.

Two key Senate races remain. In Arizona, Republican Rep. Martha McSally is facing off against Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema and Democratic Rep. Jacky Rosen is looking to unseat Republican Sen. Dean Heller in Nevada.

Meanwhile, Democrats in California stand to win over half a dozen seats, with several in the historically conservative Orange County area. And there are two House seats up for grabs for Democrats in Washington state.

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12:31 a.m. 

Ilhan Omar is the first-ever Somali-American elected to Congress

Ilhan Omar has been elected to Minnesota’s 5th congressional district, nabbing  78.4% of the vote over republican candidate, Jennifer Zielinski who earned 21.6% of the vote with 99 percent of districts reporting.

Omar, who came to the United States more than 20 years ago as a refugee, is the first-ever Somali-American member of Congress. She has been a vocal critic of the Israeli government’s treatment of Palestinians. Omar was backed by New York Democratic congressional nominee Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, 29, who also won her race on Tuesday, making her the youngest person to be elected to Congress.

Omar will succeed Minnesota Rep. Keith Ellison, the first Muslim man elected to Congress. She and Michigan democrat, Rashida Tlaib are the first Muslim women elected to Congress.

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11:46 p.m. Tallahassee, Florida

Gillum Supporters Disheartened after Loss “I just wonder if we’re really a country of inclusion”

The results are in and it’s news no one on this side of Tallahassee wanted to hear.

After a long wait with crow enthusiasm starting to drop after each passing hour, Mayor Andrew Gillum stepped on stage to concede the race.

His supporters reacted with boos as Gillum explained that he called Ron DeSantis to congratulate him.

While Gillum was mostly positive and upbeat in his concession speech, he got choked up expressing regret that he couldn’t “bring it home” as his wife R. Jai Gillum stepped up to offer her support.

After a round of applause as Gillum explained he wouldn’t give up, the crowd quickly dispersed.

Looking around, I could see campaign workers, volunteers and supporters with tears in their eyes, many hugging each other and shaking their head in disappointment.

“I just wonder if we’re really a country of inclusion,” said Cecka Rose Green, who was wearing a cut-up blue Gillum t-shirt. “If we’re really a country that says that no matter from where you come, what your circumstance is, if you work hard that you can achieve the American dream.”

“It was a hard fought campaign. We fought a lot of negative ads.  There were a lot of racial attacks.  And growing up black in America is hard enough as it is. It’s kind of disheartening.”

We also spoke with Rep. Frederica Wilson, who said she wants to see an investigation take place into what happened at the polls today.

“I cannot even fathom having Mr. DeSantis as the governor of Florida,” Wilson told theGrio.

“We had a brilliant candidate on the cusp of making history. Something is a miss.  I can’t even begin to tell you how disappointed I am, how hurt I am.”

“Fear and racism won tonight.  We will have to fight harder.”

– Natasha Alford

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11:38 p.m. Tallahassee, Florida

After Gillum Loss Fredrika Wilson Calls for Investigation into Polling Machines

TheGrio’s Natasha Alford caught up with Representative Fredrika Wilson at the Gillum Watch party for her thoughts after he conceded the election to Ron DeSantis.

I am in Tallahassee because I expected a different result. I cannot even fathom having Mr. DeSantis as the governor of Florida.

We had a brilliant candidate on the cusp of making history. Something is a miss.  I can’t even begin to tell you how disappointed I am, how hurt I am.

He stood for justice and as a great role model for the children of this nation.

We had some issues with some polling places in Miami Date County, so I’m hoping that they will investigate and find out because there is no way from all the polls and the people and the excitement.  All of the energy.

I am dismayed but I am not broken because I am proud of the people who voted for the first time, for young people who came and were energized and we just got to fight.

We will have to fight harder.

Fear and racism won tonight.

I would like them to look into hacking of machines.  Who was involved.  I have seen demonstrations about how college age students can actually go into computers and put votes in even before machines go to leave for ballot places.

I would like to find out if some kind of shenanigans took place tonight with this race for governor and also for the United States Senate as close as it is.

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11:26 p.m.

Garlin Gilchrist becomes first Black Lt. Gov. in Michigan history

In a night of many firsts in House races, another has happened in the Governor’s office in Michigan. Democrat Gretchen Whitmer defeated Republican Attorney General Bill Schuette to become the second woman to be Michigan’s Governor.

In the process, Garlin Gilchrist II, a 35-year-old Detroit native who served as a political organizer and managed social media for Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, becomes lieutenant governor. He will be the first Black lieutenant governor in the state’s history.

Gilchrist, who also ran Detroit’s Innovation & Emerging Technology department, was selected by Whitmer as a way to galvanize young, Black Democrats from around the state – particularly in Detroit – and he played a role in getting them on board with the long-time state legislator.

Gilchrist lost in a bid to be Detroit City Clerk in 2017 by just 1,482 votes. A year later, he is a part of history.

“I am so excited about what the state of Michigan is doing right now,” Gilchrist told the Detroit News after the race was called. “I am so proud to humbly accept the opportunity to serve as your next lieutenant governor.”

—Jay Scott Smith


11:25 p.m.

Letitia James makes history becomes first Black woman Attorney General in New York

On a night of historic wins in the State of New York, you can add Democrat Letitia “Tish” James to the list as she becomes the first Black woman to be the state’s Attorney General.

Congrats to Letitia “Tish” James (Twitter)

James defeated her opponent, Republican attorney Keith Wofford, by a nearly 2-to-1 margin with 70 percent of districts reporting according to Patch. James will replace disgraced former A.G. Eric Scheiderman, who resigned in May amid allegations that he abused four women.

James joins Antonio Delgado and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez in history making wins in the state. She has pledged to keep up New York’s fight against Donald Trump.

—Jay Scott Smith


11:19 p.m.

Antonio Delgado Wins in NY 19th House District

Antonio Delgado, a rapper turned Rhodes Scholar, will join the growing “blue wave” headed into the House of Representatives.

Delgado defeated Republican incumbent Jon Faso in a race marked by a number of racist ads directed at Delgado referencing his rap career when he was known as AD The Voice.

He was the target of ads that suggested that he had said numerous degrading things about women without actually providing any real proof.

Delgado, who attended Harvard Law School, will become the first African-American to represent New York’s 19th Congressional District which sits in Upstate New York in the Hudson Valley.

Looks like his voice will be the voice that represents the Empire state.

Congratulations Antonio!

—Jay Scott Smith


11:10 p.m.

Andrew Gillum concedes to Ron DeSantis 

Before most media outlets could project a winner, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum conceded to Republican opponent Ron DeSantis, who will become Florida’s next governor.

The former U.S. rep will keep Florida under Republican control which is good news for Donald Trump who endorsed his candidacy and has major business investments in the state.

The race was punctuated with racist implications and DeSantis’ weird ad where he played with his daughter as they built a fictional wall to keep immigrants out of the country.

In his concessions speech, Gillum spoke of looking towards a brighter future and reminisced about the lessons his grandmother taught him as a young boy that has made him into the man he is today.


11:00 p.m.

Sharice Davids becomes first Native American openly gay woman member of Congress

Former Obama staffer Sharice Davids becomes first Native American openly gay woman member of Congress (Twitter)

On a night of big gains for House Democrats across the country, add another in the normally bloody red state of Kansas. Sharice Davids, an attorney who worked as a fellow in President Barack Obama’s White House, defeated incumbent Republican Rep. Kevin Yoder in Kansas’ 3rd District, which includes Kansas City and its nearby suburbs..

Davids becomes the first lesbian congresswoman from Kansas. Davids is one of two Native women elected to Congress tonight – New Mexico’s Deb Haaland won in that state’s 1st Congressional District tonight.

Congrats to Sharice Davids!

—Jay Scott Smith


10:51 p.m.

Former NFL Player Colin Allred beats Pete Sessions in Texas

Colin Allred, who spent four seasons in the NFL before getting his law degree and eventually pursuing politics, has defeated longtime Congressman and House Rules Committee Chairman Pete Sessions in Texas’ 32nd district, which includes parts of Dallas and Garland.

Colin Allred (Twitter)

Allred, 35, is a Dallas native who attended Baylor University – where he also played linebacker for the football team from 2001-2005. He played four seasons in the NFL with the Tennessee Titans before retiring and pursuing a law degree at the University of California-Berkley.

Allred went on to become a civil rights lawyer and focused his campaign on health-care, improving education, and fixing the U.S. immigration system.

His rise even caught the attention of Donald Trump, who came to Texas to campaign for Sessions, but to no avail. Allred joins a long line of Democrats who are projected to flip the House.

Congrats to Colin Allred!

—Jay Scott Smith


10:46 p.m.

Louisiana Votes to End Non-Unanimous Juries

According to Nola.com, Louisiana voted to require unanimous juries for all felony convictions starting in 2019, approving a state constitutional amendment that ends a Jim-Crow era law that has dominated the state’s legal system.

Louisiana is the only state in the country where a 12-person jury verdict of 11-1 or 10-2 can result in someone spending the rest of their life in prison without the possibility of parole.

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10:30 p.m.

Ted Cruz Defeats Dem rockstar Beto O’Rourke

Republican Ted Cruz has officially won his re-election bid in Texas for a seat in the U.S. Senate beating Rep. Beto O’Rourke, according to NBC News and CNN.com 

Dems had hoped to overcome a 24-year losing streak, but will have to wait yet again.

Many have said this was the fight of Cruz’s career in one of the most watched races in the country.


10:03 p.m.

Beto O’Rourke Maintains Slim Lead Over Ted Cruz

The Texas Senate race continues to be a nail biter with Beto O’Rourke and Ted Cruz neck and neck. Currently, democratic nominee Beto O’Rourke leads by 0.4 percentage points, or 21,360 votes over republican incumbent, Ted Cruz with 7 percent of precincts reporting.  

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10:10 p.m.

Congratulations Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez!

Progressive challenger Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez thegrio.com
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez makes history, becomes youngest Congresswoman ever. (Photo by Scott Heins/Getty Images)

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has won the New York’s 14th Congressional District seat, becoming the youngest women ever elected to Congress.

The Associated Press made the call at 9:44 p.m., 44 minutes after polls closed.

The Bronx native’s victory completes one of the most unlikely victories in history. Ocasio-Cortez’s upset of 10-term incumbent Democrat Joe Crowley in the primary shocked the country.

Her grassroots level campaign was largely dismissed by pundits and barely covered in local and national media until she defeated Crowley by picking up 57 percent of the vote in a race where she was outspent 18–1. Crowley even infamously sent a staffer to stand in for him at a debate.

—Jay Scott Smith 


10:00 p.m.

Ben Jealous loses bid for Maryland Governor

Ben Jealous, the former president of the NAACP, has lost his bid for Maryland Governor to incumbent Larry Hogan, reports Politico. Unlike many Republicans, Hogan has made a point of not associating himself with Donald Trump, even going as far as to say he did not vote for him in 2016.

Jealous, was backed by the likes of Bernie Sanders, ran on a progressive platform that called for Medicare-for all and free in-state college tuition. In recent days, he even had comedian and friend Dave Chappelle make campaign calls for him.

Jealous regularly trailed Hogan by double digits in the polls. Hogan has maintained strong approval ratings in a state that Hillary Clinton carried with 60 percent of the vote in 2016.

—Jay Scott Smith


9:49 p.m. Tallahassee, Florida

Gillum Supporters Celebrate Restoration of Voting Rights for Ex-felons

We’re live inside the watch party for Mayor Gillum and the crowd just went wild over breaking news from Rachel Maddow about Amendment 4.

This week we met voters like this FAMU student Kaelyn Hamilton, who have expressed full support for restoring voting rights for former felons.

Right now 1.6 million people are disenfranchised across the state due to their criminal record.

As MSNBC commentator Joy Reid went live from the press risers and mentioned Amendment 4 passing again, the crowd began to cheer “Bring It Home!”

“If you do what you supposed to do and follow your probation and become a productive member of society, that shouldn’t be stripped from you,” said Cookie Lofton, a Tallahassee resident and mother of a FAMU graduate.

“They need to do their homework and vote their conscience,” said Lofton.

When more updates on the race came in the crowd seemed anxious and worried as DeSantis pulled out front in the race with 50% to Gillum’s 48.8%.

– Natasha Alford

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9:30 p.m

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez prepares to become youngest woman in Congress

Polls just closed 30 minutes ago in New York City and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is feeling reflective as she awaits the returns in her house race in New York’s 14th Congressional District. According to FiveThirtyEight, the Bronx native is a heavy favorite to claim the seat in the solidly Democratic district.

Ocasio-Cortez, who is of Puerto Rican descent, took to Twitter this morning and talked about how she wishes her family and friends in Puerto Rico could have more of a say in federal elections.

“Can’t help but reflect this Election Day: as my family in Puerto Rico watches me run for Congress, they still don’t have the right to vote in federal elections,” she tweeted, “despite being subject to federal lawmakers.”

Puerto Rico, a U.S. Commonwealth, cannot vote in federal elections and has a non-voting member in Congress.

Ocasio-Cortez, 29, is on the verge of becoming the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. Her stunning upset of 10-term incumbent Democrat Joe Crowley in the primary shocked the country.


9:20 p.m.

Congratulations Rashida Tlaib!

Michigan’s Rashida Tlaib becomes first Muslim woman elected to Congress. (Twitter)

Rashida Tlaib has made history becoming the first Muslim woman to be elected to Congress, winning in Michigan’s 13th District.

Tlaib, who served in the Michigan State legislature, takes over the seat previously held by John Conyers, who resigned earlier this year in the wake of sexual harassment allegations. Tlaib ran unopposed in the heavily Democratic district that spans parts of Detroit and the neighboring suburbs.

Tlaib, a Detroit native who is the daughter of Palestinian immigrants, was also the first Muslim woman to be elected to the Michigan legislature. She secured the nomination in the 13th District by narrowly edging out Detroit City Council President Brenda Jones in the primary.


9:11 p.m. Atlanta, Georgia

Stacey Abrams Secures Must-Win County in Early voting Total

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9:03 p.m.

Ayanna Pressley Makes History in Massachusetts

Ayanna Pressley has won her election and become the first African-American woman to represent Massachusetts in congress.

Pressley surprised everyone by defeating 10-term incumbent Michael Capuano in the Massachusetts Democratic congressional primary.The members of the CBC actually endorsed Pressley’s opponent, who is white.

Since there was no challenger for the November general election, Pressley was all but assured a seat in the House of Representatives.

Pressley was also the also the first woman of color to hold a seat on Boston’s City Council in its 108-year history.

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8:59 p.m.

Florida Votes to Restore Ex-felon Voting 

Florida voters approved Amendment 4, automatically restoring voting rights in the state for people previously convicted of felonies.

Florida’s Amendment 4 restores voting rights for people in the state convicted of felonies as long as they have completed their sentences, although anyone convicted of murder or felony sex offenses would be excluded.

Based on the Sentencing Project’s 2016 estimates, this amendment will benefit more than one million people.

According to Vox.com, Black people, who are disproportionately arrested and incarcerated, will benefit the most. In 2016, more than 418,000 black people out of a black voting-age population of more than 2.3 million, or 17.9 percent of potential black voters in Florida, had finished sentences but couldn’t vote due to a felony record.

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8:45 p.m. Tallahassee, Florida

At Gillum Watch Party Supporters Glued to Returns

Gillum Watch Party thegrio.com

A hopeful watch party at Mayor Andrew Gillum’s alma mater of Florida A&M University is picking up, as supporters have lined up to wait for election results.

With a royal blue backdrop and large capital G with a graphic of the state Florida drawn on top, and a podium center stage, two televisions are tuned to MSNBC set up showing live election results.

The crowd is full of supporters of all racial backgrounds and ages. Many are wearing blue “Andrew Gillum for Governor” shirts.

The crowd just let out a huge sigh of disappointment as MSNBC projected numbers that Ron DeSantis has pulled out in front with votes at 50%.

“Are you nervous mam?” I asked an older woman seated with neat natural braids.

“Yes, I’m nervous,” she said with a sigh.

“This people didn’t get out and vote… But I think it’s gonna come down to the wire,” she replied with a half smile.

Milly Silva, the director of campaign volunteers statewide just came out to encourage the crowd.

“Let me tell you something. We got this!”

The crowd cheers.

– Natasha Alford

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Georgia NAACP wins lawsuit

Georgia NAACP wins a lawsuit, and voting times will be extended by three hours in two precincts near Spelman and Morehouse. Polls will now close at 10:00pm per court orders. If you’re in line to vote, you’ve got more time to make your voice heard. Stay the course!


8:35 p.m.

Stacey Abrams Supporters Flood Campaign Watch Party

TheGrio is at the official election night watch party for Stacey Abrams and even though the doors just opened, the line to get in is already snaking around the spacious lobby of the Hyatt Regency in downtown Atlanta.

The feeling is electric as people excitedly chatter about the incoming voting predictions throughout the country and watch for any updates on the local races. Rounds of applause and cheers abound as results tick in from the television screens surrounding the lobby.

Jordan, a young voter, is hopeful that Georgia will turn blue. “She’s the clearest choice and the best candidate,” he said.

Jordan supports Stacey Abrams.

Shalonda went to Spelman with Abrams and is excited about seeing her former classmate making moves in the political sphere. “The person that you see is the person that we know from 1995 back at Spelman. And, it’s great and dynamic to see someone like her vying for this position,” she said.

Shalonda is a former classmate of Stacey Abrams.

Although Jill is a graduate student in Georgia, she still votes in her hometown in Virginia. Nonetheless, she is looking forward to an Abrams administration.

Jill voted elsewhere, but still wants to see Abrams win.

“It’s good to see someone who can unite Georgia because once you leave Atlanta the landscape is vastly different.”

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8:31 p.m.

Democrats Secure Another Key Seat in Florida

Democrat Donna Shalala is projected winner in the race defeating Maria Elvira Salazar to flip a House seat that has long been a target of Democrats.

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8:22 p.m.

Beto O’Rourke Pulls Ahead in Texas

The race is still on in Texas where Beto O’Rourke is looking to unseat Republican Senator Ted Cruz. Early results indicate Beto is currently in the lead with 53.9% of the vote compared to Cruz’s 45.5%. 

O’Rourke has boasted a slew of celebrity endorsements including a late in the game shout out from Houston native, Beyonce. NBA star, LeBron James has also showcased his support for Beto who has served as a U.S. Representative since 2013. 

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8:15 p.m. Tallahassee, Florida

Gillum and Nelson hold Slim Lead in Florida

Tallehasse.com is reporting early results for Miami-Dade and Broward show Andrew Gillum, leading the Republican candidate, Ron DeSantis. In Miami-Dade, Gillum led by about 20 percentage points with nearly 658,000 votes counted. In Broward, Gillum led by a much wider margin, about 40 percentage points with more nearly 465,000 votes counted.

In the race for U.S. Senator, Democrat Bill Nelson, the incumbent, led handily over the challenger, Florida Gov. Rick Scott. In Miami-Dade, Nelson led by about 20 percentage points with 660,000 votes cast. In Broward, with nearly 450,000 votes counted, Nelson led Scott by about 40 percentage points.

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8:11 p.m.

Kim Davis, Who Refused to Issue Marriage Licenses to Gay Couples, Loses Re-Election

Kim Davis, the clerk of Kentucky’s Rowan County who was jailed in 2015 for refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, lost her county clerk race to Elwood Caudill Jr., who she defeated in 2014 by just 23 votes.

Caudill received 4,210 votes in the final total, approximately 700 more than Davis’s 3,566 according to Herald Leader.

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8:05 p.m. Atlanta, Georgia

Lucy McBath: “Your vote is your voice” 

Spurred by the tragic death of her son, Lucy McBath is running for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District seat. Lost in the midst of the hotly contested Georgia governor’s race, McBath is looking to become the first Democrat to represent the suburban Atlanta district since 1979 as she faces incumbent Republican Karen Handel.

According to FiveThirtyEight, the district is a toss-up as polls right now show McBath in a dead heat with Handel, who narrowly won the seat in 2014.

McBath became an outspoken advocate against gun violence following the 2012 shooting death of her son, Jordan Davis, in Jacksonville, Florida. The 17-year-old was murdered by Michael Dunn, a white man angered that Davis and his friends would not turn down their music.

Dunn, who claimed the shooting was in self-defense because he felt “threatened” by the boys arguing back at him, was convicted of first-degree murder. McBath was inspired to run for the seat when she saw Donald Trump speak after the shooting in Parkland, Florida.

She says she knew Trump was lying when he said that he would challenge the NRA.

“My son and experiences are what propelled me to stand up to be the voice for . Now it’s your turn – your vote is your voice,” said McBath on her Twitter feed today as she reminded voters to go to the polls before they close at 7:00 p.m.

McBath came in first in a four-way primary in May and won the runoff in July. Now she’s hoping to beat the odds against Handel on a platform of protecting healthcare and rallying against lax gun laws.

“People in Georgia’s 6th District want their family members with preexisting conditions to have quality and affordable health care. I am the only candidate in this race who will fight for those values,” McBath told the Washington Post.

She has received influential endorsements from several prominent Democrats, including Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand, and John Lewis.

—Jay Scott Smith 


7:51 p.m.

Democrats Secure Key House Seat in Virginia Race

CNN reports that Republican Rep. Barbara Comstock will be ousted from her northern Virginia seat by Democratic state Sen. Jennifer Wexton.

Comstock’s district in the Washington suburbs was seen as a must-win by Democrats in their bid to make a net gain of 23 seats and take control of the House.

President Barack Obama campaigned for Wexton urging supporters to “make sure that people vote to make America better.”

Democrats need to flip 24 seats to take back the House.

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7:42 p.m. Tallahassee, Florida

Andrew Gillum takes Early Lead in Florida Governor’s Race

Tallahassee.com is reporting that Mayor Andrew Gillum has taken an early lead in Leon County, his home base and a Democratic stronghold, picking up 64.5 percent of the vote.

Former GOP Congressman Ron DeSantis had 34.46 percent, according to unofficial totals.

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7:37 p.m.

After Wrongful Conviction Man Released from Death Row Cast Ballot

According to the Equal Justice Initiative, for 30 years, Mr. Hinton was stripped of all his rights while he sat on Alabama death row for a crime he didn’t commit. Today, he arrived at the polls at 7am and exercised his right to vote.

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7:20 p.m.

Beto O’Rourke wants Texans to Ignore Predictions saying Cruz is a Shoe-in

Texas Democratic Congressman Beto O’Rourke knows that if he’s to have any shot against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, he’s going to need a big-time turnout to match the wave of national support he’s received. By the time the polls opened across the Lone Star State this morning, more than six million people had already voted, surpassing total turnout in Texas for the entire 2014 election according to The Daily Beast.

Numerous polls have shown O’Rourke trailing Cruz as he makes a bid to be the first Democrat to win a statewide office in Texas since 1994. Despite the predictions, he has maintained that he does indeed hold a chance against Cruz and has encouraged supporters to ignore the polls and vote.

“This is the most important time of our lives,” O’Rourke said at a rally at the University of Texas-El Paso on Monday night. He has a watch party planned tonight where he’ll be at El Paso’s Southwest University Park, a 7,500-seat baseball stadium.

O’Rourke has drawn support from across Texas and the country. Native Texan Beyonce tweeted out a photo sporting a Beto hat – similar to the one that Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James wore prior to a game in San Antonio last week.

O’Rourke has visited all 254 of Texas’ counties and become a viral sensation due to his Facebook live videos along the campaign trail as well as his vocal support of NFL players who protested racial injustice by kneeling during the national anthem at games.

O’Rourke’s friendly nature and relatable personality have made him a hit in Texas – particularly with Hispanic voters – where his supporters see him not only as a change from the unpopular Cruz, but also as a shot against Donald Trump.

“I’m voting for Beto because I don’t like the kind of people like Trump,” first-time voter Fidel Ontiveros told the Daily Beast. “He and a lot of other people are talking s**t about Mexicans.”

—Jay Scott Smith


7:11 p.m.

Tim Kaine and Bernie Sanders Secure Victories

According to NBC News projections, Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) have won re-election.

Kaine defeated Republican Corey Stewart, NBC News projects. Sanders defeated Republican Lawrence Zupan.

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6:08 p.m.

Eric Holder Blasts Brian Kemp for Voter Delays

Former Attorney General Eric Holder took to Twitter to blast Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp for voter suppression tactics that have caused long wait times at the polls.

Holder is the chair of the National Democratic Redistricting Committee (NDRC) which serves as a strategic hub for developing a comprehensive redistricting strategy. The group believes the only way to truly restore fairness to politics is to combat the unscrupulous Republican gerrymandering that, in the group’s words, is ‘plaguing our country.’

Holder tweeted today:

“4.5 hour waits in African American districts in Georgia. Good job Kemp. No one is surprised. And this guy wants a promotion to Governor? Be strong Georgia and vote for Stacey. ⁦@staceyabrams”

During an interview with TheGrio back in February Holder addressed the impact of voter suppression on our community saying, “It’s no secret that states that are the most gerrymandered also have the most restrictive voter I.D laws — laws which consistently (and disproportionately) affect African-Americans and other minorities.”

Poll hours were extended in Georgia to accommodate voters at some of the locations that experienced issues earlier in the day.

Annistown Elementary School NOW OPEN UNTIL 9:25pm

Anderson-Livsey Elementary School NOW OPEN UNTIL 7:30pm

Harbins Elementary School NOW OPEN UNTIL 7:14pm

But ppparently even Kemp had trouble voting at his own polling station today.

The Republican gubernatorial candidate struggled while using computer terminal with 16-year-old technology. He fought against replacing the machines during the elections.

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5:53 p.m.

Rihanna Supports Stacey Abrams

The Abrams camp had no shortage of celebrity talent during the campaign and now Rihanna is adding her voice, tweeting:

GEORGIA: I’m sure you already know, but incase you’re still wondering… it’s all about @StaceyAbrams for Governor! Stacey is an inspiration to women across the world!!!

We need everyone in Georgia to Vote TODAY! It’s going to take all of us to do the work! EVERY. VOTE. MATTERS!

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5:40 p.m. Atlanta, Georgia

Becoming a Part of the Process 

“It’s nice to learn about the process of voting,” said Wilber Lane.

Wilbur Lane is a polling station volunteer in Atlanta. He’s been manning the polls since 5:55 am and says despite the rain that has been coming down on and off all day, there has been a steady flow of voters strolling into the Cedar Grove Elementary School polling location. When the rain reached torrential status early this morning, Lane and his fellow poll workers gathered the snaking line into the building so the voters wouldn’t get soaked.

Lane does not agree with the politicos and pundits who claim millennials and Get Z won’t be showing up en masse today to vote in this year’s midterm elections.

“Oh, that’s not true at all,” Lane said. “Who do you think did all that early voting? That was them coming out to vote. I’m not even worried about that.”

Lane has been volunteering at the polls for the past three years and he plans to continue doing his part to help people vote and learn a little something about the political process at the same time.

“My wife got me into volunteering here. She was doing it before me and since we’re both retired, I didn’t have nothing else to do,” Lane joked. “It’s nice to learn about the process of voting. We all know to go vote, but we don’t know all the details that go into it.

– Demetria Irwin


5:28 p.m. 

Hats off to Beyonce’s post for Beto O’Rourke

Beto O’Rourke picked up a last minute endorsement from Queen Bee, a Houston native.

Beyonce took to her Instagram account to post three photos making it clear who she’s picking in the hotly contested senate race between O’Rourke and Ted Cruz, writing:

I’m feeling grateful for everyone before me who fought so hard to give us all the right to have a voice. We can’t voice our frustrations and complain about what’s wrong without voting and exercising our power to make it right. We need you. We all need each other, because when we are truly united we are unstoppable. Sending you all love and positivity on this happy voting day!
Every vote counts 
Every race matters 
Everywhere..

 

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A post shared by Beyoncé (@beyonce) on

Beto O’Rourke tweeted his thanks.

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3:14 p.m. Atlanta, Georgia

Why I voted!

People are compelled to exercise their right to vote for different reasons. Here, theGrio interviews three Georgia voters about why they chose to vote in this midterm election and the possibility of their state bleeding blue for the first time in years.

Linda “Queen Tiger”Bell, brought her daughter with her to vote to share in the historic moment. 

Jennifer Simmons has voted since she turned 18, but is especially excited to vote for Stacey Abrams. 

Antron Gilbert says he had a great voting experience and thinks today is the day Georgia turns blue. 

-reporting by Adia Dightman


2:22 p.m. Atlanta, Georgia

Jessie Jackson leads Voters to the Polls

Venerable civil rights leader Rev. Jessie Jackson hit Morehouse College to get students out to the polls

Jackson also released a statement today on the importance of voting in the midterm elections, writing:

“Today is take back our country day- vote, vote, vote! Your vote is your voice- vote, vote, vote!

Today you are equal to EVERYONE else in AMerica. You have the SAME POWER as Donald Trump.

Don’t take anything for granted! Don’t believe the hype! Don’t believe any polls! Just go do your dute- vote, vote, vote!”

Jackson also mentioned the need to support progressive candidates like Stacey Abrams in Georgia, Andrew Gillum in Florida, Ben Jealous in Maryland, Mike Espy in Mississippi, David Garcia in Arizona, Ayanna Pressley in Massachusetts, David Ige in Hawaii, Paulette Jordan in Idaho, Mandela Barnes in Wisconsin, Lucia McBath in Georgia, Jahana Hayes in Connecticut, Deb Haaland in New Mexico, Lujan Grisham in New Mexico, Sharice Davids in Kansas, Alexandria Ocasio Cortez in New York, Lupe Valdez in Texas and Garlin Gilchrist in Michigan.

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2:09 p.m.

Maryland Voters Head to the Polls for Ben Jealous

Ben Jealous thegrio.com
WASHINGTON, DC – FEBRUARY 16: U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (ID-VT) (C) speaks as former president and CEO of NAACP Ben Jealous (R) looks on during a rally “to fight-back against the Republican war on the working class” February 16, 2017 at Upper Senate Park on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC. Activists held a rally to celebrate Andrew Puzder’s decision to withdraw from consideration to be secretary of labor and Òto hold [President] Trump accountable to the working class.” (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)

Democrat and former NAACP President Ben Jealous is getting out the vote in his quest to become governor of Maryland.

And at a recent campaign stop he had a special message for voters: “If you want to make Donald Trump’s blood pressure go up,” Jealous continued, “send a civil rights leader to the governor’s office.”

Jealous has even enlisted the help of politicos like Bernie Sanders and some celebrity friends like Rosario Dawson and Dave Chappelle.

The comedian reportedly phoned Maryland voters ahead of Tuesday’s midterm elections, urging them to vote for Jealous.

“Put me on your speakerphone, please,” Chappelle told one voter in a video posted to Twitter on Sunday. “This is absolutely Dave Chappelle the comedian and I’m calling you guys with fantastic news: You’re on the cusp of having a wonderful governor in the state of Maryland named Ben Jealous.”

“I’m in his campaign office right now,” Chappelle continued. “Ben and my father were best friends. He’s my godbrother. I’ve known him all my life and I’m here supporting him because I think he’s going to do the right thing by Maryland. And I would never endorse anything or anyone I don’t believe in.”

Maryland voters are braving the rain to make sure their voices are heard.


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1:13 p.m. Atlanta, Georgia

Stacey Abrams Campaign Responds to Racist Brian Kemp Tweet about ‘Black Panthers’

Brian Kemp posted an image of Black men holding assault rifles and a ‘Stacey Abrams’ sign to stoke the racial fears of his base, writing: “The Black Panther Party is backing my opponent. RT if you think Abrams is TOO EXTREME for Georgia!”

Stacey Abrams’ Director of Strategic Communications Abigail Collazo issued a statement:

“Brian Kemp is the only candidate in this race who has posed for pictures with supporters wearing racist, hate-filled t-shirts and refused to denounce them, while Abrams continues to condemn any racist, anti-Semitic, or otherwise discriminatory words and actions. Unlike Kemp, Abrams is a leader committed to running an inclusive campaign focused on bringing all Georgians together to find bold solutions on critical issues like health care, education, and the economy, which is why supporters turned out in unprecedented numbers to vote for Abrams in the early vote period, and why she is leading in the most recent polls heading into election day.”

The Republican candidate has famously posed with guns in his campaign ads and said in a May ad, “I got a big truck, just in case I need to round up criminal illegals and take them home myself. Yep, I just said that.” The ad also shows him revving up a chainsaw to “rip up some regulations” and opens by showing an explosion in a yard as he declares, “I’m so conservative, I blow up government spending.”

Kemp has also curried favor amongst right-wing militia members and was called out for posing for a picture with a well-known far-right and anti-Muslim activist at a campaign event.

The far-right conspiracy theorist James Stachowiak wore a t-shirt that read, “Allah is not God, and Mohammad is not his prophet”, in a photo posted on what appears to be his Twitter account on October 15.

– Demetria Irwin

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1:39 p.m. Atlanta, Georgia

Words of Gratitude for Georgia voters  

Ivory M. Denson and Velma Donald are volunteering at different voting locations today in a non-partisan effort on behalf of their church, Cascade United Methodist in Atlanta, GA.  As the two ladies handed out water, chips, and donuts (all free of charge), they also gifted each person with words of encouragement and gratitude for anyone who exercised their right too vote today.

“We’re here to support the community and let them know we appreciate them coming out and taking the time to vote,” said Donald. “This is a very serious election.”

– Demetria Irwin


12:42 p.m.

Issues with Voting Machines Around the Country Raise Concerns

Voting in Indiana thegrio.com
Voters were lined up outside of the Vigo County Annex in Terra Haute, Indiana on Monday to take advantage of the last day of early voting. (AP)

Voters are reporting issues at their polling places and are taking to social media to share their concerns. According to the Associated Press long lines and malfunctioning machines marred the first hours of voting at some precincts across the country. Some of the biggest problems were in Georgia, where some voters reported waiting up to three hours to vote.

 One voter, Ontaria Woods, told the Associated Press that about two dozen people who had come to vote left because of the lines.

“We’ve been trying to tell them to wait, but people have children. People are getting hungry. People are tired,” Woods said. Woods said she and others turned down the paper ballots because they “don’t trust it.”

At a polling place in Snellville, Georgia, more than 100 people took turns sitting in children’s chairs and on the floor as they waited in line for hours. Voting machines at the Gwinnett County precinct did not work, so poll workers offered provisional paper ballots while trying to get a replacement machine.

There was also reportedly some issues in Phoenix, Arizona, after a polling site was closed overnight. The owners of the property locked the doors and voters were sent to another precinct nearby. Maricopa County Recorder Adrian Fontes tweeted that the location in Chandler was up and running shortly after 7 a.m. Tuesday.

Early voting and voter registration has been problematic in a number of states. Problems include faulty machines in Texas and North Carolina, inaccurate mailers in Missouri and Montana, and voter registration problems in Tennessee and Georgia.

In other states, including Kansas, Election Day polling places have been closed or consolidated, leading to worries that voters will be disenfranchised if they can’t find a way to get there and cast a ballot.

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12:33 p.m. Atlanta, Georgia

Stacey Abrams’ Press Secretary on the Blue Wave

Deputy Press Secretary at Stacey Abrams for Governor Michael Holloman, graduated from college just two years ago and just received his Master’s degree in political communication from American University. If Abrams is elected governor today, he will be a part of history and the force that propelled her to victory.

Listen to what Holloman had to say about being a part of the blue wave sweeping the country and working with the campaign.

– Demetria Irwin


12:11 p.m. Atlanta, Georgia

John Lewis on Stacey Abrams: “She’d be a great governor for the state of Georgia”

Congressman John Lewis speaks today to reporters after voting in today’s midterm elections. Lewis, who has publicly supported Stacey Abrams, says he feels deeply moved to be able to vote for a woman who could become the nation’s first Black woman governor.

“She’s smart, gifted, and an unbelievable leader. She’d be a great governor for the state of Georgia,” said Lewis.

View the video below to find out what the Congressman had to say about meeting a young woman who voted for the first time today and sharing his thoughts with her on his lifelong struggle to gain and maintain voting rights for African Americans.

– Demetria Irwin


11:38 a.m. Tallahassee, Florida

Florida Voters Speak

Nicole Cain: “It sounds like he’s trying to build up the middle class. He’s helping people who can go to vocational school. I think that’s positive for a lot of the kids.”

Nicole Cain, Gillum voter
Nicole Cain is casting her vote for Andrew Gillum. (TheGrio)

– Natasha Alford

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11:30 a.m. Tallahassee, Florida

Gillum’s Criminal Justice Reform Plan Resonates with Voters

Andrew Gillum’s push to restore the rights of voters and ban of the box on job applications, is meant to reduce barriers to starting people’s lives over.

Right now more than 1.6 million people are disenfranchised in the state of Florida– something that could change if Florida voters approve Amendment 4, the Voter Restoration Act, on this year’s ballot.

Jaqueline Harold is one of the supporters who came out this morning to watch Andrew Gillum cast his vote in Tallahassee.

Harold’s father was once incarcerated and she looks to Gillum as a leader to change an issue that hits home for her.

“I went to the rally last night.  I know a lot of what he’s been campaigning for especially with felons,” Harold told theGrio.  “Just to have my dad’s rights restored is really important to me and feel like it’s also important to Mayor Gillum.”

Harold also felt like Gillum was a relatable candidate.

“Also, you can see that he’s human just like we are. That he’s striving and fighting for a lot of the same things that we’re wanting and I think it would be an amazing win for Florida to have a governor like that.”

Jacqueline Howard thegrio.com
Jacqueline Howard is casting her vote for Andrew Gillum based on his criminal justice reform plans. (TheGrio)

– Natasha Alford

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10:39 a.m. – Atlanta, Georgia

John Lewis Heads to the Polls

Georgia Congressman John Lewis greets a constituent at the Wolf Creek Library voting location before heading inside to cast his own ballot.

The civil Rights icon told CNN’s “New Day” that Americans must do more to confront racism and the prospect of “separation” of races when asked about the state of race relations in the U.S., and expressed optimism that Democrats would retake the House of Representatives in Tuesday’s elections.
“The scars and stains of racism are still deeply embedded in American society,” Lewis told Alisyn Camerota. “We need to lay down the burden of racism and separation and create what I call, ‘One America, One Community, One House,’ because all of us live in the same house, in the American house.”

“And as Dr. [Martin Luther King Jr.] said on many occasions, we must learn to live together as brothers and sisters,” he added. “If not, we will perish as fools.”

– Demetria Irwin

10:18 a.m. Tallahassee, Florida

Andrew Gillum Casts Vote and Sends Message to Trump and DeSantis: “The politics of hatred and separation have come to an end”

Andrew Gillum votes thegrio.com
TheGrio

With a crowd of supporters cheering him on, Andrew Gillum cast his ballot for governor of Florida this morning at Good Shepherd Catholic Church in Tallahassee, FL.

Gillum paused to speak with reporters after casting his vote from himself in Florida’s closely watched gubernatorial race. He joked that he tried to look at his wife, R. Jai Gillum, to see what she was doing in her booth and she confirmed that she voted for him as well.

Holding his baby son in his arms, and with his two older children at his side, Gillum expressed satisfaction at a campaign he says was run with class and focused on the policy instead of nonsense.
“All the way along we tried to talk about the issues that matter to people,” Gillum told the press.
“People are going out and they’re voting for something and not against.  And by voting for something. We’re returning the politics of decency and what’s right and what’s common between all of us.”
When asked about what it would mean to make history as Florida’s first African-American governor— a southern state which is traditionally Republican—Gillum responded:
“We’ll worry about history later but today, we’re working to win.”

 

Gillum spoke about the issues that caused him to run for office and said his message to Trump and DeSantis is clear, “The politics of hatred and separation have come to an end.”

– Natasha Alford

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9:34 a.m. – Atlanta, Georgia

Georgia Heads to the Polls

Voters are lined up at Wolf Creek Library in Atlanta, GA to cast their ballots. Congressman John Lewis is expected to vote here today.

Georgia voters line up at Wolf Creek Library on election day. (TheGrio thegrio.com
Georgia voters line up at Wolf Creek Library on election day. (TheGrio)

– Demetria Irwin

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9:29 a.m. Atlanta, Georgia

Georgia Reporting Technical Issues at the Polls

According to the AJC.com, technical issues were causing long lines and forcing voters to resort to paper ballots at one Gwinnett County precinct Tuesday morning.

Around 9 a.m., Gwinnett County officials confirmed that the electronic Express Polls — which are used to check voters in to their precincts — were down at Anderson-Livsey Elementary School near Snellville. The line of hundreds of waiting voters stretched the entire length of the school.


Gwinnett County spokesman told the AJC that new equipment will be brought in so voters can cast their ballots.

And in the meantime, poll workers have been instructed to use paper voter rolls so residents can cast paper ballots. Those ballots, which are akin to standardized testing forms, are later scanned by machines, not by people.

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8:27 a.m. Tallahassee, Florida

Gillum to Cast Vote in Florida

Andrew Gillum thegrio.com
Tallahassee mayor Andrew Gillum poses for a photo with a young fan during a campaign stop in his bid for governor, Monday, Nov. 5, 2018, in Crawfordville, Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon)

This morning Tallahassee Mayor Andrew Gillum will cast a vote for himself to become Florida’s next governor, surrounded by his wife First Lady R. Jai Gillum, along with his closest friends and supporters.

Gillum was up late last night celebrating with his FAMU community in a special concert hosted by Angela Rye and Diddy, with hundreds cheering him on to “bring it home,” in the packed athletic center.

 Excitement was high on campus, with campaign posters everywhere, and many students and Tallahassee community members having full faith that Gillum will win and make history as the first African-American governor of Florida.

Mayor Gillum will appear at Good Shepherd Catholic Church, the very same polling place where he vote in the primary race— a race in which he defied expectations and beat Democratic candidates who outspent him by millions.

– Natasha Alford

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