The US Midterm Elections are being held at one of the most crucial times as Americans are concerned about rising inflation, the war in Ukraine and economic challenges arising from the war as well as from the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic.
The midterms have tested the government in power and barring once after World War II, these elections have always favoured the party in opposition. This time it is no different.
The swing is towards the Republicans and if they take control of the US House of Representatives, it will be tough for the Biden administration to pass any legislation through a US House which could have a Republican majority and is likely to face a tough time for the next two years, until the 2024 Presidential Elections.
News18 travelled to Missouri’s St Louis county’s polling booths to understand what impacts voters there and how the residents are going about the crucial midterms.
From Washington to Missouri, posters for candidates dotted the landscape. A booth in St Louis county, early voters came in and cast their ballots. There were no banners and festoons on the way to the booth.
There were also no security personnel or police officers on duty outside the polling booth, which is a common sight across many polling booths in India during any election.
Eric Fey, a Democrat and director of the Election Board, while speaking to News18 said police presence during elections is against the law in Missouri. There was also no visible tension around the polling booth. Locals say that when results will be declared it will be celebrated in a peaceful manner.
“There is no requirement of police. It is against our laws. It is very different here in Missouri as people come (to the polling booth) and show their card, which is then verified by representatives from both parties. The officials then print the ballot and then the person is allowed to cast their vote which is then scanned and stored in the system,” Fey explained. In Missouri, the voters have to present their Photo ID to cast their vote.
Fey said that all states have different rules and voting formats.
News18 spoke to a woman who goes by the name of Valeri and asked her if she has faced or witnessed voter intimidation. She was taken by surprise.
“Oh! Price rise and the economy is an issue but I have voted for a Democrat because I am a born Democrat,” a surprised Valeri said. Other voters who were present clicked selfies after they cast their ballot.
Missouri is witnessing a battle for US Senate as attorney general and Republican Eric Schmitt is contesting for the Senate against Democratic Party candidate Trudy Busch Valentine.
At the time of publishing this report, Schmitt emerged victorious with 57.1% of the votes polled. Busch Valentine received 40.5% of the total votes polled. Libertarian Jonathan Dine and Paul Venable of the Constitution Party won less than 2% of the votes polled.
News18 also visited the Barack Obama Elementary School and we were unable to understand if polling was taking place. A poster greeted us at the entrance which said that no one within 25 feet of the polling station will be allowed to carry a gun even if they have a valid licence.
Here, there were multiple polls being held. While the vote was being held to choose representatives to the US House and US Senate, voting for the county executive and the state auditor was also being held. Voting to reelect judges was also held.
At a polling booth in Maryland, Republican party supporter Carol and Democratic party worker Allen sat next to each other and held a healthy discussion on why they are supporting their respective parties. Allen and Carol told News18 they were discussing the role of misinformation in the US elections.
When asked they also posed together for a picture.
There have been concerns among some sections of the US public that widespread voter fraud has taken place in the 2020 presidential election and is likely to happen during these midterm elections as well. Some of the 2020 election deniers are also in the fray representing the Republican party but Eric Fey says that is not the case.
“Fake and false voting is something that does not happen here,” Eric said.
In the US, referendums are also held during the election season. Five states will hold referendums on the issue of abortion. California will ask voters whether to enshrine abortion rights in the state constitution while Michigan and Vermont voters will be asked to vote for or against the right. Kentucky voters will be asked to decide on an anti-abortion constitutional amendment and Montana will ask its citizens to decide whether to make abortion a crime, punishable by 20 years in prison and a $50,000 fine.
Arkansas, South Dakota and Maryland will vote on cannabis legalisation. Missouri and North Dakota will also hold referendums on cannabis.
However, on the ground everything looks peaceful, even though there is unrest within the Democratic party and the Biden administration.
Despite growing economic uncertainty, both Democrats and the Republicans have spent millions of dollars in campaigns to ensure that their candidates win. Reports say that close to $16.7 billion were spent in these elections. The Republicans need to win five seats to attain House majority and one seat to control the Senate.
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