Polls will start closing in some states at 6 p.m., Eastern Time, in one of the most closely watched midterm elections in recent memory. History has shown that the President’s party usually takes a beating in the first midterm election, and polls predict the Democrats may lose control of the House, if not the Senate as well.
A lot comes down to whether Democrats can hold the Senate, which would provide a bulwark to Republicans sending bills to President Joe Biden’s desk and blocking his judicial nominees. A key race is in Georgia, where former football star Hershel Walker presents a major test of the power of former President Donald Trump’s endorsement. Walker, who’s been the subject of news stories that he paid for a woman’s abortion despite his strict anti-abortion stance, is facing incumbent Sen. Raphael Warnock. In Pennsylvania’s Senate race, the Democrat lieutenant governor John Fetterman is up against Trump’s pick TV doctor Dr. Mehmet Oz. And in Ohio, Trump’s pick for senate, J.D. Vance, has been leading in polling, but his opponent, Democrat Rep. Tim Ryan has been running a populist, pro-union campaign.
A so-called red wave of Republican seats could bolster Trump’s case that he’s the party’s best chance to reclaim the White House in 2024. At a rally in Ohio on Monday night, he teased a “very big announcement” at his private club in Florida on Nov. 15.
Each election helps maintain the clockwork of a democracy, but this one, at this moment in the country, carries a lot of freight. At stake is not just the balance of power in Congress and in state capitols—nor only the consequences for the economy, the climate, women’s health, the wealth gap, and what we as a country think is important. Also on the line is the mechanics of elections themselves, and the basic mathematics of how the people communicate their will.
There are a lot of ways it can be gummed up.
One test is whether Republican candidates who have denied Trump’s loss to Biden in 2020 will accept the results in 2022 if they are defeated, or only if they win. Two years of Trump’s unfounded denials of the 2020 results have opened the door to a raft of candidates who have shown an unwillingness to accept vetted vote tallies. Another question is whether the public is prepared to potentially wait days for final outcomes, as tens of millions of mail-in and absentee ballots are counted. In some states with closely watched races like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, Republicans are expected to have higher tallies early in the count, with Democratic votes coming in later as mail-in ballots and absentee ballots are counted.
A Republican surge in Congress will mean more investigations of Biden’s Administration and his family, and also force Democrats to confront Biden’s reelection chances and whether he’s the party’s best hope to beat a potential Trump candidacy for a second time.
What if I’m still in line after the polls close?
If you are already in line at a polling place when the polls close, you should stay in line. Poll workers are legally required to let you still vote. “Don’t allow anyone to tell you otherwise,” says Cecilia Aguilera, a counsel for the Fair Elections Center.
If anyone is asking you to leave, stay in the line and call or text the Election Protection Hotline at 866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683) to alert their trained volunteers, who will be able to assist the situation, says Aguilera. (The same service is also available for non-English voters. Spanish speakers can call 888-VE-Y-VOTE. Speakers of Asian languages can call 888-API-VOTE. Arabic speakers can call 844-YALLA-US.) Those same numbers can be called if you feel someone is trying to stop you from voting.