This article will be regularly updated with additional information including election results as it becomes available.
UPDATED: 2:15 p.m. ET
Amid concerns about voter intimidation, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is trying to block federal election monitors dispatched by the Department of Justice at several polling places in the Sunshine State.
“Department of Justice monitors are not permitted inside a polling place under Florida law,” said a letter written by Brad McVay, the general counsel for the Florida Department of State, and sent to John Russ, the DOJ’s deputy chief and elections coordinator. The letter added later: “the presence of federal law enforcement inside polling places would be counterproductive and could potentially undermine confidence in the election.”
The letter from Florida came as the NAACP and other civil rights groups sounded the alarm over voter intimidation concerns.
UPDATED: 1 p.m. ET
The trend of Black voters in Georgia showing out to the polls in force during the early voting period appeared to be extending into the general election, according to a new report. However, the rate of Black voters casting ballots on Tuesday was much lower than during the early voting period when Black voters fueled an overall record turnout for the early voting period.
Twenty-one percent of Georgians casting their votes as of about 12 noon on Tuesday have been Black, Capital B political reporter Chauncey L. Alcorn tweeted.
In comparison, Black voters accounted for 39% of all voters on Oct. 14, the first day of the early voting period in Georgia.
In Pennsylvania, State Rep. and congressional candidate Summer Lee spoke to the media on Election Day. In 2018, Lee made history after she became the first Black woman to be elected to Pennsylvania’s legislature, winning over 67 percent of the vote.
UPDATED 12 p.m. ET
Social media reports out of Maricopa County in Arizona indicate that there are faulty voting machines not working properly.
The number of Black people in Maricopa County is relatively low, according to Census data. However, 32% of the county’s nearly 4.5 million population identifies as Hispanic or Latino, groups that are similarly targeted with voter suppression tactics not unlike broken voting machines — an approach that Brian Kemp allegedly employed when he won the 2018 gubernatorial election over Stacey Abrams.
UPDATED: 11 a.m. ET
Amid widespread predictions that Republicans will make significant gains on Election Day, there’s a new report suggesting that Black voters are bracing for the blame that they feel will inevitably be assigned to them as Democrats lick their wounds, according to the Hill.
But if there is any blame to assign, it likely won’t fall on the shoulders of Black voters if history and early voting data are any indications.
“In every election since 2016, Black voters have shown up in record and historic numbers,” Adrianne Shropshire, executive director of BlackPAC, told the Hill. “I don’t think that this midterm is going to be any different, and we’ve seen the result of early voting in critical states around the country, and those early vote numbers include Black voters.”
UPDATED: 10 a.m. ET
Civil rights leaders were renewing their calls to encourage voters to turn out at the ballot box on Tuesday.
“As our democracy hangs in the balance – this election is too important to ignore,” NAACP CEO & President Derrick Johnson said in a statement emailed to NewsOne. “For anyone who has not voted yet – this is the final day to get out and make sure your voice is heard. Voting is power and in this election, it is imperative that we utilize our collective power to stand up to extremism and injustice.”
Johnson’s statement came hours after the NAACP filed a last-second lawsuit in Texas accusing local election officials of intimidating Black voters.
“White poll workers throughout early voting repeatedly asked in aggressive tones only Black voters and not white voters 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 suit centered on the city of Beaumont in Jefferson said in part, the New York Times reported.
A number of polling places on the East Coast had opened by 7 a.m. on Tuesday as voters who didn’t participate in early voting look to cast their ballots in midterm elections with plenty at stake regardless of political affiliation.
However, with that said, Black voters and candidates arguably have the most to gain – and lose – depending on results in key races that range from governor’s seats to the U.S. Senate to the U.S. House to mayors and other contests further down ballots.
Notably, Stacey Abrams has been waging a strong gubernatorial campaign in Georgia in a second consecutive run against Brian Kemp. Also in Georgia, Sen. Rev. Raphael Warnock has been engaged in a tight race against football star-turned-candidate Herschel Walker, whose campaign has been steadily pelted by repeated bombshell revelations that do not seem to have affected his candidacy.
It is also in Georgia where Black voters fueled a record number of early voting in what could be an indication of what’s to come from Democrats’ most loyal voting bloc as Republicans attempt to win back the House and Senate.
Elsewhere, Wes Moore is poised to be just the third Black person ever elected governor if he wins his race in Maryland, where polling suggests a landslide victory is on the horizon. Moore, Abrams and Deidre DeJear in Iowa are the only Black gubernatorial nominees this year.
In Wisconsin, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes is seeking to beat incumbent Republican Sen. Ron Johnson in a race that’s been marked by racist dog whistles against the younger Democrat.
Other notable Black candidates include U.S. Rep. Val Demings, the Democratic nominee for U.S. Senate running against Republican Sen. Marco Rubio; Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who was famously blamed for not charging police officers for Breonna Taylor’s killing, is running for governor; Keith Ellison, Minnesota’s attorney general whose office secured the conviction of Derek Chauvin for murdering George Floyd, is up for re-election; and California U.S. Rep. Karen Bass is running for mayor in Los Angeles.
Other issues Black voters should be aware of that are not on the ballot but can certainly affect their ability to cast them include misinformation campaigns and other efforts that aim to disenfranchise Black voters.
There’s also the issue of election challenges, which arise when any registered voter challenges the right of another voter, or group of voters, to cast a ballot by alleging that they are not qualified to do so. Experts say such challenges have an outsized effect on Black voters stemming from overall voter suppression efforts.
It is for those above and plenty of other reasons that voting activists, organizers and advocates have been working overtime to increase election awareness for Black voters in particular who already must contend with a series of new election laws that critics say make it harder to vote.
But voter suppression is nothing new and if 2020 is any indication of the type of voting power we can expect from Black people at the polls this year, Democrats can expect to be saved yet again by the influential but often overlooked demographic.
This is America.