Democrats are putting up a tough challenge as Republicans’ Senate majority is at stake on election day.
Al Jazeera’s Chris Moody has sent this report from West Tampa, Florida
Jill Biden, the wife of Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden, made a last-minute appearance in a predominantly Latino neighbourhood of West Tampa today in an effort to boost turnout in this crucial battleground state.
Speaking to only a few dozen supporters, mostly volunteers who have backed her husband’s campaign, she emphasised unity before the polls close later tonight.
“There is nothing – nothing – we can’t do when we come together with courage and grit,” Jill Biden told the crowd of people, who wore masks and stood several feet apart from each other.
“Donald Trump is in this for himself. Nothing more, nothing less. And he wants us to believe that we’re all the same, that we’re unhopeful and angry and selfish and divided. But today, we are going to show him who we are.”
The appearance outside “Casa Biden”, an independent volunteer office where people have spent months drumming up support for Biden in an area with large Cuban and Puerto Rican populations, was scheduled at the 11th hour to try to increase voter turnout.
“This is where the highest concentration of Hispanic voters are,” said Elio Muller, who directs the volunteer operations. “Our precincts are usually 60 percent turnout Democrat.”
Al Jazeera’s Jennifer Glasse reflects on casting a ballot in the US after decades abroad.
Al Jazeera’s Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath has sent this update from Wilmington, North Carolina.
Ricardo Thomas woke up this morning feeling energised. The 35-year-old Wilmington, North Carolina-native was anxious to get to the polls to cast his first ever ballot.
“It was like the first day of school,” he told Al Jazeera. Upon leaving the polling station, Thomas said he was “feeling good”.
Thomas explained that while he did not really have an interest in voting before this election, but when COVID-19 hit him and his community especially hard, he started to learn more about the candidates.
“I live below the line anyway, so [often election outcomes] would never affect us,” he told Al Jazeera. “Because we don’t know what it is to have the amount of money that the people around us that we provide our services for have,” he said.
“When the COVID came, I lost my job, and it really set me back, back, back.” And that’s when he says he knew he had to vote, and “be a part of change and history”.
Al Jazeera’s Cinnamon Janzer has sent this dispatch from Kenosha, Wisconsin
Election day is off to the races in Wisconsin.
Erin Decker, chair of the Republican Party of Kenosha County, said she expects “record-high turnout” today, while Lori Hawkins, chair of the Kenosha County Democrats, said she told her children that they are witnessing history.
Inside Kenosha’s municipal building, hallways dedicated to central count efforts – to tally absentee ballots separately from the polls – are bustling with volunteers and city officials. Dressed in neon green shirts, dozens of poll workers are steadily counting the 57,650 ballots that have been returned so far at tables of two, spaced six feet apart.
A handful of retired men wearing bright orange lanyards attached to white placards reading “election observer” around their necks are mingling among the first-floor crowd.
Outside the building, resident Dennis Phillips said he had not voted yet, but that he would likely cast a ballot later for Trump – just as he did in 2016. “He’s been doing pretty good I guess,” Phillips said.
Al Jazeera’s Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath has sent this update from Wilmington, North Carolina
Residents voting at Williston Middle School in Wilmington, North Carolina, were greeted with music and food as they headed into the voting booth.
“I don’t like the thought of anybody being afraid to vote,” said Rhonda Moore, president of the Wilmington alumnae chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
“Even though what I see you on television is a little nerve-wracking, I had to get up enough bravery to come down and be a part of creating a safe atmosphere,” Moore told Al Jazeera. “I vote because I have to. I vote because somebody paid the price.”
Nyoka Grady, who held a Black Voters Matter sign, said she came out to show love on election day.
“I’m out here because I’m supporting Black Lives Matter,” Grady told Al Jazeera. “All votes matter,” she added.
Nearly 1.5 million North Carolina voters are Black and lean Democratic. If voter turnout is high, as many expect, Black voters could play a pivotal role in determining which candidate wins the state.
Sunshine is the forecast for Tuesday for much of the US as the nation votes, shortly after hurricanes and early snowfall hit parts of the country.
Parts of the Pacific Northwest will see temperatures of around 13 degrees Celsius (55 Fahrenheit), which is average, and some rainfall.
US District Judge Emmet Sullivan ordered the US Postal Service (USPS) to conduct a sweep of some processing facilities this afternoon to ensure no ballots have been held up and any discovered are immediately sent out for delivery.
BREAKING: U.S. District Judge Emmet Sullivan orders USPS to sweep facilities for remaining mail ballots and immediately send them for delivery pic.twitter.com/pBvJRmzcqi
— John Kruzel (@johnkruzel) November 3, 2020
The order calls on USPS inspectors or designees to conduct sweeps in Central Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Detroit, Colorado/Wyoming, Atlanta, Houston, Alabama, Northern New England, Greater South Carolina, South Florida, Lakeland and Arizona.
Many states require receipt of all mailed ballots by the end of Tuesday.
Al Jazeera’s Hilary Beaumont has sent this update from the suburbs of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Voters wearing masks waited in long lines at polling stations across Pennsylvania on election day.
Pennsylvania saw lower early voter turnout than other states, reaching 40 percent of the total votes counted in the 2016 election.
Voters in a pro-Trump Pennsylvania Facebook group shared photos of long lines across the state when the polls opened at 7am.
At a polling location in Malvern, a suburb outside Philadelphia, there was no line and voters took less than 10 minutes to cast their ballots.
Joe Biden is hoping that strong turnout in Philadelphia and the suburbs could help him win the state.
Marcia, a Malvern voter who did not want her last name used, said she did not trust the mail to deliver her ballot on time. She waited in line for an hour before she was sent to a different polling location. The registered Republican voted for Trump in 2016 but this election she voted for Biden.
“I didn’t like the way Trump handled the virus, it’s getting worse instead of better and I didn’t believe a lot of the stuff he said,” Marcia, who voted for Trump in 2016, told Al Jazeera.
Christian and his mother Ali walked out of their Malvern polling location with masks on. Christian a who voted third-party in 2016, cast his ballot for Trump. “The Democratic left in this country is going to take us away from our founding principles and move us more towards a European-style socialist country,” he said.
Ahead of election day, just over 100 million voters cast early ballots either by mail or in person, according to figures from the US Elections Project at the University of Florida, driven by concerns over crowded polling places during the coronavirus pandemic as well as extraordinary enthusiasm.
The total has shattered records and prompted some experts to predict the highest voting rates since 1908.
Speaking exclusively to Al Jazeera, Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat and the first of two female Muslims to be elected to Congress back in 2018, reported seeing long lines of people waiting to cast their ballot in Michigan’s 13 district.
“I’ve not, in all the years I’ve run for office seen lines like this,” Tlaib told Al Jazeera in an exclusive phone interview, adding that large numbers of people had already voted early.
According to the Elections Project, 2.8 million voters voted early across Michigan, over 58 percent the number voters in 2016.
Rashida, 44, is of Palestinian descent. A progressive and a vocal critic of Trump, she is up for re-election against Republican challenger David Dudenhoefer. She represent a solid Democratic stronghold that she is expected to win.
The Midwestern state is a critical battleground this election. Trump narrowly flipped it in a surprise upset for Democrats in 2016, and is hoping to win it again this year – Biden is hoping to win it back.
“To see the lines for election day this long, to see the flow of people going in very steady, gives me hope that the turnout is going to be high enough, where it’s very clear that Donald Trump is not wanted as the President of the United States any more,” she said.
“I’m really happy to see this kind of turnout in my district.”
Long voting lines on election day are not unusual or necessarily a sign of that something nefarious is afoot, says the Associated Press news agency.
They are often the product of something as simple as heavier-than-expected turnout for an important election like Tuesday’s presidential, congressional and other races.
Long lines also develop when there are not enough voting machines – either because some have malfunctioned or there just aren’t enough of them to comfortably manage the turnout – or when poll workers do not show up for their assignments, leading to understaffing.
This year, polling places are putting social distancing measures in place because of the coronavirus pandemic, with voters who are in line encouraged to keep at least six feet (1.83 metres) apart – automatically making for longer lines.
First lady Melania Trump cast her vote at a voting centre in Palm Beach, Florida, near Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort.
Asked why she did not vote with the president last week, the first lady told reporters: “It’s election day so I wanted to come here to vote today for the election.”
The first lady waved and smiled to reporters. She was the only person not wearing a mask when she entered the Morton and Barbara Mandel Recreation Center to vote.
Wall Street’s main stock indexes opened higher as investors cling to optimism that a clear winner will emerge from an exceptionally divisive US presidential election.
Within minutes of the open of trading on Wall Street, the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up more than 341 points or 1.27 percent at 27,266.96.
Economist at Goldman Sachs Jan Hatzius wrote in a note to clients that “there is a good chance the presidential election outcome will be clear on election night” because Biden leads polls narrowly in Arizona, Florida, Georgia and North Carolina – states that are likely to report results quickly.
Read more here.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama made a final appeal directed at Black Americans to vote for Biden, tweeting a picture of the former Vice President kneeling while talking to a young child.
‘I know Joe,” she wrote, “He understands the struggles of everyday folks. “Vote today for the future you want to see for our country.”
I know Joe. He has lived his life guided by values and principles that mirror ones that most Americans can recognize. He understands the struggles of everyday folks. Vote today for the future you want to see for our country. Vote for @JoeBiden. pic.twitter.com/aezyMxuBQv
— Michelle Obama (@MichelleObama) November 3, 2020
Progressive left icon, US Representative Ilhan Omar, who is running for re-election in Minnesota after breaking barriers in 2016 to become one of the first two Muslims elected to Congress, posted a video on Twitter urging people to vote:
“This isn’t about voting for ourselves,” she wrote in a tweet. “It isn’t about getting in that ballot box and thinking about you and what you might win or lose. It’s about voting on behalf of our community, our society, our country, and most importantly, to restore our democracy.
This isn't about voting for ourselves. It isn't about getting in that ballot box and thinking about you and what you might win or lose. It's about voting on behalf of our community, our society, our country, and most importantly, to restore our democracy.https://t.co/FLbI8aYRnH pic.twitter.com/JeLFZO8liO
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) November 3, 2020
Biden greeted about 50-60 supporters outside of Local Union 445 in Scranton. He gave brief remarks via a megaphone, and at first fumbled finding the “on” button on the side.
Once he got it working, Biden hit on familiar themes like restoring the soul of the nation, rebuilding the middle class and uniting the country.
“It’s good to be home,” Biden said. After telling folks he unanimously won Dixville Notch, New Hampshire – the first town in the US to count its votes – he joked: “Based on Trump’s notion, I’m going to declare victory tonight.”
Al Jazeera’s Patrick Strickland has sent this update from Tucson, Arizona
Arizona voting polls opened on Tuesday at 7am local time (14:00 GMT) and will stay open until 7pm.
With more than 4.2 million voters, the southwestern state had a larger early voter turnout than the total number of voters in all of the 2016 voting period, including those cast on election day.
While voter engagement has soared, local media outlets report that several nonprofits around the state are playing their part to help get voters to the polls – and keep them there until they cast their votes.
In the state capital, Phoenix, the Chefs for Polls project plans to keep voters waiting in line fed with meals, according to AZ Central. Meanwhile, in Tucson, the state’s second most populous city, voter advocacy groups are providing free rides to the polls for individuals without transport, the local K-OLD 13 reports.
In anticipation of unrest following the election, more fencing was added to the perimeter of the White House on Monday. And businesses in Washington DC boarded up their storefronts and windows.
Federal authorities installed more barriers and temporary modular homes inside Lafayette Park, just north of the White House. Back in June, following the police killing of George Floyd, police aggressively pushed back protesters from the park so the president could walk to a church for a photo opportunity.
The Metropolitan Police Department said a handful of groups have applied for demonstration permits on election day and in the following days.
Biden is spending election day campaigning in his hometown of Scranton and in Philadelphia where he will continue to meet with voters.
Pennsylvania is key to Biden’s White House hopes. While his aides say he has multiple paths to nab 270 Electoral College votes, his easiest is by winning Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania.
While boarding his flight on Tuesday morning, Biden tossed a thumbs up to the traveling press and said he was feeling “good”.
Cellphone footage from Grand Rapids, Michigan showed a long line of socially distanced people waiting to cast their vote. Michigan is a traditionally Democratic state that Trump won in 2016 by a thin margin.
This election, both candidates are hoping to claim the Midwestern state.
Good morning from Grand Rapids! Lots of folks here ready to vote 🗳 pic.twitter.com/cwH6m1SvJT
— Dasha Burns (@DashaBurns) November 3, 2020
Why is Election Day today? What is the Electoral College? Which states should we be watching? to find the answers to those questions and a few more read here.
Al Jazeera’s Laurin-Whitney Gottbrath has sent this update from North Carolina
North Carolina residents were outraged after police pepper-sprayed a group, which included children, taking part in a march to the polls on Saturday – at least eight people were arrested.
Video of the incident went viral.
Now, the organiser of that group says voters will march again in the city of Graham on election day. “We are cast down, but not defeated,” Reverend Greg Drumwright tweeted.
Earlier today, I attended the “I Am Change” march in Graham, which was supposed to end at the polls. At least a dozen people were arrested, and the crowd was repeatedly pepper sprayed. #ncpol 1/ pic.twitter.com/4juq9EGdZj
— Carli Brosseau (@carlibrosseau) October 31, 2020
Graham Police defended their actions, saying Drumwritght did not get permission to block roadways, and marchers were told to disperse multiple times. The ACLU-NC sued.
The earliest we could know whether a presidential candidate is projected to have won the 270 electoral votes needed for victory, is likely to be 23:00 EST (04:00 GMT). That is when polls close in California, which has the most electoral votes of any state – 55 – and that could put a candidate over the 270 threshold.
Read more here.
Trump said he believes his large rally crowds during his fast-paced weeks of campaigning are the “ultimate poll” and translate into a lot of votes for his re-election.
Trump told Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” he will spend election day making phone calls to people who have been loyal to him and will go to his campaign headquarters in suburban Virginia to thank the staff.
Trump said he would declare himself the winner of the election “Only when there’s victory.”
There has been concern that Trump will declare victory early – before vote counts are definitive. But the Republican president told Fox there is no reason to “play games” and that he has a “very solid chance at winning”.
Trump also says he understands why businesses are boarding up their storefronts but thinks it is very sad they feel the need to do it. He predicts that if there is violence and unrest, it will be in Democrat-run cities.
Joe Biden and his wife Jill, with two granddaughters, Finnegan and Natalie in tow, went to St. Joseph’s church in Wilmington, Delaware, early on election day.
Biden then went across the street to a cemetery where his late son Beau, his first wife, and his daughter are buried.
Beau died of brain cancer in 2015. Biden’s late wife, Neilia, and infant daughter, Naomi, died in a car crash in 1972, shortly after Biden was elected senator.
Next, Biden is scheduled to head to Scranton, Pennsylvania as he makes a final push to get out the vote.
Trump, spoke Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends” on election morning.
“We did not think we were going to take these big rallies back and we got them back. And they were amazing I mean they were amazing and we got it all together,” he with a raspy voice.
“We think we’re winning Texas very big,” he added. “We think we’re winning Florida very big. We think we’re winning Arizona very big. I think we’re going to do very well in North Carolina, I think we’re going to do very well in Pennsylvania. We think we’re doing very well everywhere, and it’s more than talking you know we’re seeing trends.”
Unlike many other states, North Carolina has already started processing its early and absentee votes. More than 4.5 million – about 61 percent of eligible voters – took advantage of absentee ballots or early voting.
Reporting of those results are expected to start after polls close at 7:30pm (00:00 GMT).
Read more about what to expect in North Carolina here.
Analysts say the road to the White House must run through North Carolina for Trump, but does not necessarily need to for Biden.
The state is “more important for Trump than for Biden because a number of the other swing states, particularly the northern states in the Rust Belt, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, are traditionally several points more Democratic in their voting behaviour than North Carolina,” Eric Heberlig, a political science professor at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, told Al Jazeera.
The latest polls showed Biden with a slim lead in the state heading into election day.
Polling stations opened in New York, New Jersey and Virginia, marking the start of US Election Day as Trump seeks to beat forecasts and defeat challenger Biden.
The vote is widely seen as a referendum on Trump and his divisive presidency that Biden urged Americans to end to restore “our democracy”.
Read more here
Ayatollah Ali Khamenei reiterated a long-standing Iranian position that it did not matter whether Trump or Joe Biden wins the vote, but the stakes could not be higher for the Islamic republic.
Another four years could see Trump’s maximum-pressure campaigns further expand as it crushes the Iranian economy and stops Tehran from openly selling its crude oil abroad.
Biden meanwhile has said he would consider re-entering Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers, providing possible relief to the beleaguered Iranian rial.
Residents living in and around Thulasendrapuram, the ancestral village of Democratic vice presidential nominee Kamala Harris, gathered at a temple for special prayers ahead of the elections.
One local politician conducted an “Abhishekam,” a practice that involves pouring milk over a Hindu idol amid recitation of religious verses, in the presence of about 20 villagers.
Harris was born to an Indian mother and a Jamaican father who both immigrated to the US to study.
Islanders cannot vote, but both parties have sought to win Puerto Ricans on the mainland.
Read more here
The key contests, Electoral College and battleground states explained here ahead of the vote in the US.
US business leaders are calling for calm even as they brace for potential trouble on the streets and inside their companies in case of a disputed result.
The fears were highlighted in many US cities where retail stores were being boarded up, as some key executives expressed concerns about public reaction.
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg last week warned of the potential for civil unrest as votes are tallied in a US election that will be “a test” for the social network.
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the US election’s result will not affect Tehran’s policy towards Washington.
“Our policy towards the United States is clearly set and does not change with the movement of individuals. It does not matter to us who comes and goes,” Khamenei said in a speech carried live on state TV.
A federal judge in Texas denied a bid by Republicans to throw out about 127,000 votes already cast in the election at drive-through voting sites in Houston, a Democratic-leaning area.
The plaintiffs had accused Harris County Clerk Chris Hollins, a Democrat, of acting illegally when he allowed drive-through voting as an alternative during the coronavirus pandemic.
In a written order, US District Judge Andrew Hanen said the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the case and waited too long to sue.
“To disenfranchise over 120,000 voters who voted as instructed the day before the scheduled election does not serve the public interest,” the judge wrote, adding that drive-through early voting was permissible under Texas law.
Trump predicted a “beautiful victory” in his final reelection campaign stop hours before polls open across the US.
“We’re going to have another beautiful victory tomorrow,” he told a crowd in Grand Rapids, Michigan, the same place where he held the climactic rally of his 2016 campaign, when he upset the polls to beat Hillary Clinton.
“We’re going to make history once again,” he said.
Election Day in the United States is officially under way, as two small towns in the north-eastern state of New Hampshire kicked off the vote with their traditional midnight opening of polling stations.
Some major cities on the east coast will see polling stations open at 6am (11:00-12:00 GMT) and then polls will continue to open across six time zones.The final polls will close in Alaska, in the far west, when it’s already morning in the east.
Voters in Dixville Notch, a village of 12 residents in New Hampshire, kicked off election day at the stroke of midnight by voting unanimously for Biden within minutes: five votes for Biden and none for Trump.
The tiny northeastern town in the middle of the forest has traditionally voted “first in the nation” since 1960.
Neighbouring Millsfield also began voting at midnight but a third village in the area, which typically follows the same tradition, cancelled overnight voting due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump and Biden made a last-ditch push for votes as their campaigns prepared for post-election disputes that could prolong a divisive presidential election.
Trump – trailing in national opinion polls – has continued his unfounded attacks on mail-in ballots, telling reporters that Pennsylvania’s plans to count mail ballots that arrive up to three days after Election Day would lead to widespread cheating, although he did not explain how.
He urged the US Supreme Court to reconsider its decision that left the extension in place. The court has left that possibility open.