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Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 13 November 2018

US midterm elections 2018: live updates as Americans vote

Stay with us for all of the latest coverage as Donald Trump faces his biggest electoral test since he took office

  • The Republicans will retain control of the Senate but look set to lose the House, leading to two years of gridlock in Washington
  • Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar are the first two Arab-American and Muslim women elected to the House
  • Early indications show that turnout across the country is high

Immigration reform, birthright citizenship and presidential pride were on the ballot for Americans as they voted in the Trump administration's first major electoral test since 2016.

Both parties will claim victory on Wednesday. US President Trump tweeted that the elections were a "tremendous success" as his party retained control of the Senate.

Meanwhile, the Democrats have broken the Republican grip on politics in Washington by taking the House of Representatives. It will allow them to halt Mr Trump's legislative agenda, protect DACA recipients, keep Obamacare and hold the president to account.

All times EST (UAE9)

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Read more:

Donald Trump warns Democrats against probes and mocks Republicans who lost seats

US Congress welcomes trailblazers as record number of women and minorities elected

Editorial: Midterm results are the first steps to curtailing Trump's power

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State of play

State governor race

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WATCH: How women shattered records in the election

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Inside the GOP’s Arizona after party, upbeat mood as Trump’s election ‘firewall’ holds

The votes are still being counted but the party has already begun among Arizona's Republican Party members, Arthur MacMillan reports.

With the Senate secured, the only potential spoiler to their evening – losing a seat in this state to the Democrats – lacked the power it had earlier in the day. At the Hilton DoubleTree Resort, music blared from the hall and smiles were etched on faces. The story was now all about what comes next in Washington.

“We are in a battle. But Trump is very resilient. We have the Senate, the Supreme Court and the White House. That’s a firewall,” GOP volunteer James Murr said.

Read more

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06:30 Trump says it's a 'big victory'

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03:30 Democrats secure a majority in the House

Democrats have now secured more than 218 seats in the House of Representatives, the number needed for a majority in the House.

They have been able to break the Republican party's grip on all three branches of government in Washington, significantly impeding President Trump's legislative agenda.

In the Senate, where seats won in 2012 – the year Barack Obama won his second term – were up for reelection, the Republicans have been able to retain their majority.

Democrats running for Senate seats have received some eight million more votes than Republicans, but the structure of the US political system – which allocates two Senate seats per state – means candidates in less populated states needed fewer votes to win.

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Analysis: Why Democrats had struggled to take both houses

Republicans look set to keep and even increase their slim Senate majority even as they lose grip on the lower House of Representatives, writes Cody Combs.

The result is broadly in line with what many analysts projected but makes for a confusing picture.

So how are the Democrats on course to soundly rout the Republicans in the House and lose seats to them in the upper chamber?

To put it simply, different rules govern elections for the two chambers.

Read more

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02:00 'A proud Palestinian-American, woman and Muslim': through tears, Rashida Tlaib celebrates making history

Democratic US congresswoman-elect Rashida Tlaib celebrates at her midterm election night party in Detroit, Michigan. Reuters
Democratic US congresswoman-elect Rashida Tlaib celebrates at her midterm election night party in Detroit, Michigan. Reuters

Wrapped in a Palestinian flag and triumphantly surrounded by her supporters, Rashida Tlaib, the first Arab-American woman elected to the House of Representatives, raised her first in the air and shouted: "I won."

Ms Tlaib, the congresswoman-elect for Michigan's 13th district, said she drew strength from being a "proud Palestinian-American, woman and Muslim".

"I'd like to promote my mum who is from a small village in the West Bank, my grandmother, my aunts, my uncles in Palestine sitting by watching their granddaughter in the United States legislature," she said her voice breaking with emotion.

"I want them to know as I uplift the families of the 13th congressional district, I'll uplift them every single day being who I am as a proud Palestinian-American, woman and Muslim.

"I want to thank you so much because for so many years they have felt dehumanised and I tell you a lot of my strength comes from being a Palestinian."

Ms Tlaib also paid tribute to her mother, who was standing next to her.

"This woman doesn't even understand when people are being racist to her," she said breaking into emotional laughter. "Because she believes that people can be better and she is an inspiration to me in so many ways."

Read more

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01:15 'Trump is resilient': Inside the Arizona GOP's election party

Rock music is taking precedence over election speculation at the Arizona GOP’s election watch party in Scottsdale, with the noise drowning out televised analysis, Arthur MacMillan reports.

James Murr, who canvassed for Republican candidate Martha McSally, says the race should never have been close, blaming Democratic funders in neighbouring California for tipping the scales towards their candidate, Kyrsten Sinema.

A result may come about midnight (local time).

On the split outcome of the House and Senate, he says: “We are in a battle. But Trump is very resilient. We have the Senate, the Supreme Court and the White House.

"That’s a firewall. But I expect problems from the House. Maybe we won’t get the border wall funded now.

"That might be the first thing to go unless Trump acts before these new representatives take office on January 6.”

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00:00 Democrats take four seats in governor races

Democrats have gained seats in four governor races but lost key contests.

They have taken seats in New Mexico, Kansas, Illinois and Michigan. They are also leading in Wisconsin and Maine.

But so far the Republicans have won more seats than the Democrats, taking 22 states compared to 19.

The key states of Florida, Georgia and Texas all voted for Republican governors.

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23:45 Democrats leader Nancy Pelosi promises end to division

At a victory party in Washington, the House minority leader Nancy Pelosi promised to end division, strive for bipartisanship and increase accountability on the Trump administration.

"Thanks to you, tomorrow will be a new day in America," Ms Pelosi told cheering supporters, saying the House Democrats would be a check on Mr Trump.

"The American people want peace, they want results. We have all had enough of division" Ms Pelosi said.

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23:15 President Trump Tweets

US President Trump used his favourite social media platform to congratulate his party on its "tremendous success".

The Republicans have kept control of the Senate but look set to lose their majority in the House of Representatives.

The outcome will lead to gridlock in Washington, preventing Mr Trump from advancing his legislative agenda including immigration reform, repealing Obamacare and funding his border wall.

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22:50 What do the results (so far) mean for the Middle East?

The National will bring you more analysis as the results unfold but our correspondent Joyce Karam's take a few days ago on what the outcome could mean for President Donald Trump's policy in the Middle East is looking prescient.

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22:25 Analysis: What do the results (so far) mean for both parties?

The Democrats' loss of a Senate seat in Indiana may have been a tipping point and the moment Donald Trump breathed a sigh of relief, writes our correspondent Arthur MacMillan.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Sanders appeared minutes later and dismissed talk of a “blue wave”, saying it might be a ripple at best.

The cast of analysts sitting around US networks' tables gulped at the projected results, with Democratic pollsters deflated and Republicans elated. At 10.15pm ABC News projected that the Republicans would retain the Senate.

Two very different races are beginning to emerge. In the Senate, Mr Trump's push for Republican candidates is paying off, with his numerical advantage from the 2016 presidential election being sustained.

Initially good forecasts for the Democrats failed to materialise, with Texas – as red a state as there is - initially looking like a win before ABC called it comfortably for Republican Ted Cruz.

But in the House of Representatives the Democrats are making gains. In Pennsylvania, won by Mr Trump two years ago, they are taking seats back from Republicans. That could spell trouble for the US President and more investigations from congressional committees that may soon be led by Democrats.

Such a split outcome would be in line with forecasts and give both parties reasons for optimism. Mr Trump could say the biggest spending ever by Democrats in midterm polls failed to have the desired impact. But his opponents will say the loss of the House shows America's public is starting to move against him.

Election night is in its early stages. Expect surprises and more swings of the needle.

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21:55 Republicans retain control of the Senate

Projections show that the Republicans will retain control of the Senate, having won key seats.

Election forecasters FiveThirtyEight predict a more than 95 per cent chance that the Republicans will retain control of the Senate.

One key race yet to be called will be in Arizona, where Arthur MacMillan reports voting will go late into the night as it continues half an hour after stations were meant to close.

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21:40 Second Arab-American elected to the House

Ilhan Omar has become one of the first Arab-Americans elected to the House. Reuters
Ilhan Omar has become one of the first Arab-Americans elected to the House. Reuters

Ilhan Omar, a Somali-American Democrat in Minnesota will join Rashida Tlaib to be the first Arab-American women elected to the House of Representatives.

Ms Omar lived in a refugee camp in Kenya for four years before moving to the US where she was inspired by attending caucus meetings with her grandfather, acting as his interpreter.

Rashida Tlaib, a Democrat in Michigan, was elected to Congress after she ran unopposed in her seat.

These midterm elections saw a record number of women competing for seats in both houses of Congress.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has also won in her New York district, becoming the youngest woman elected to Congress.

Ms Ocasio-Cortez, 29, is an outspoken left-wing Democrat who made headlines after she won her primary by beating a 10-term congressman on a platform of abolishing the Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, tuition-free public college and for single-payer health care.

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20:55 Republicans will win Indiana Senate seat

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20:50 Texas Senate race on a knife-edge

With 47% of vote in, Democrat Beto O'Rourke has a six-point lead over Ted Cruz in Texas Senate race.

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20:40 Elizabeth Warren returned as senator

Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, a potential 2020 White House contender, is among a group of five Democratics who have easily won re-election to the Senate.

Senators Chris Murphy of Connecticut, Ben Cardin of Maryland, Tom Carper of Delaware and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island also won. They were heavy favourites in their races.

Ms Warren has generated considerable speculation about a possible run for the White House in 2020, recently saying she would take a "hard look" at a presidential bid after the Senate race was over.

Mr Murphy won a second term after amassing a war chest that was 100 times larger than his opponent's.

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20:30 Democrat Rashida Tlaib becomes first Muslim woman elected to Congress

Rashida Tlaib became the first Arab-American woman to be elected to Congress. Reuters
Rashida Tlaib became the first Arab-American woman to be elected to Congress. Reuters

Michigan Democrat Rashida Tlaib, 42, won election to the House after running unopposed.

Although she will be representing voters in Detroit, Rashida Tlaib told The National she owes her sense of justice and trailblazing spirit to her Palestinian heritage.

She remembers her maternal grandmother as a “force of nature”, famous in family legend for calling out rudeness and injustice.

“As a little girl I just remember her walking into a room full of men. She didn’t care," Ms Tlaib said.

"She’d tell them to move out of her way, I’m going to sit here and be part of a meeting. She didn’t want to be in that room but knew that’s where the decisions were made.”

Read more

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20:20 Democrats cautiously optimistic as Donna Shalala wins House seat

Initial results from the US midterm elections now have Democrats leading in 16 House races, while some Senate seats are being hotly contested, writes Joyce Karam.

In Florida, Arab-American candidate Donna Shalala picked up a seat for Democrats in the House, while the race for Governor and Senator in the state is extremely close.

In Indiana, Democratic incumbent Joe Donnelly is trailing behind Republican Mike Braun. But the surprise of the night comes from Republican stronghold Texas, where Democrat Beto O'Rourke is leading incumbent Republican Ted Cruz with less than 20 per cent of the votes counted.

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20:10 Democrat Sherrod Brown returned as Ohio senator

Senator Sherrod Brown, a leading Democratic voice on financial regulation and workers' rights, was elected to a third term in Ohio, a crucial battleground state that President Trump carried in 2016.

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19:55 Democrats take first House seat of the night

Democrat Jennifer Wexton, a state senator and former prosecutor, beat incumbent Barbara Comstock in Virginia, in the first pick-up for Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections.

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19:50 Arizona race may be leaning towards Trump

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19:45 Georgia candidate blames long voter lines on lengthy ballot

Georgia voters waited hours to cast ballots on Tuesday in some precincts with technical problems or too few voting machines.

But a spokesman for Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said part of the delay stemmed from voters spending more time filling out the forms.

After reports of long lines and technical issues, a state judge ordered three precincts in Gwinnett County – part of Atlanta’s suburbs – to remain open longer on Tuesday night, the Associated Press reported. One precinct was told to stay open until 9.25pm.

“Truly, the reports that we’re getting are that the ballot is really long this year and it’s taking voters a long time to review the ballots and decide,” said Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for the secretary of state’s office. “We’re not getting complaints that people are really angry about long lines.”

Mr Kemp, a Republican, is also the party’s candidate for governor, facing off against Democrat Stacey Abrams in one of the most closely watched races.

He has brushed off allegations of voter suppression by his office, which critics say is intended to benefit his candidacy, although judges have ruled against him in recent lawsuits over access to the polls.

Several Georgia counties were also hobbled by a lawsuit that is unrelated to the 2018 election, Ms Broce said. A judge ordered hundreds of voting machines in different counties to be sequestered in the case.

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19:30 White House points to Trump’s support for candidates

As polls begin to close, the White House is stressing the effort President Donald Trump put into a political ground game aimed at putting Republicans in the win column for Tuesday's midterm elections, Associated Press reported.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said in a statement that Mr Trump headlined 50 political rallies, with 30 in the past two months. He campaigned for dozens of candidates at all levels of government.

Ms Sanders said the Republican National Committee raised more than $250 million under Mr Trump to defy what she calls “midterm history”, which tends to favour the party that does not control the White House.

Ms Sanders said the president and first lady Melania Trump were looking forward to watching election results on Tuesday night with friends and family in the White House residence.

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19:05 Bernie Sanders re-elected for a third Senate term in Vermont

Bernie Sanders, the Vermont senator who ran close to Hillary Clinton for the Democratic nomination in 2016, easily won re-election for his seat in Vermont.

Meanwhile, heavy storms in Florida have disrupted the operation of Democratic governor hopeful Andrew Gillum:

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19:15 Tim Kaine coasts to Senate victory in Virginia

Virginia Senator Tim Kaine, a Democrat, has coasted into his second term on Tuesday, beating controversial Republican challenger Corey Stewart, according to The Hill.

Senator Kaine, who has deep roots in Virginia from years of holding public office, painted himself as an underdog during the Senate race.

The Cook Political Report had rated the Virginia Senate race a “solid” Democratic one. And during the last leg of the race, Mr Kaine had far surpassed Mr Stewart in fundraising and polls, with some polls having him up by at least 20 percentage points.

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19:05 Beyonce comes out for Beto O'Rourke

Beyonce endorsed Texas Democratic Senate hopeful Beto O’Rourke over Republican incumbent Ted Cruz in the final hours before her home state’s polls close.

The native of Houston released Instagram posts with a black and white ‘Beto’ cap partially covering her face on Tuesday afternoon.

Mr O’Rourke then retweeted one of the pictures under the caption "Thank you, Beyonce".

An El Paso congressman, Mr O’Rourke is trying to become the first Democrat to win statewide office in Texas since 1994. He has drawn the admiration of many celebrities, including Texas country music star Willie Nelson.

Mr Cruz dismisses his opponent’s campaign as too liberal for Texas since Mr O’Rourke supports universal health care and impeaching president Donald Trump.

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18:41 Arthur MacMillan reports from Phoenix, where a close Senate race is taking place

Voters I spoke to this morning all said the same thing: they were voting against Donald Trump, even though the president is not on the ballot. I spoke to more than a dozen voters at four polling stations but not one had voted Republican.

Doug Mings, 52, who cast his ballot in downtown Phoenix, pretty much summed up the early mood.

“This is about the checks and balances of elections. The country is going in the wrong direction and I don't like the arguments the president put forward,” said Mr Mings, a City of Phoenix employee, after backing Kyrsten Sinema, the state's Democratic candidate for Senate.

Ms Sinema is up against Martha McSally, a former Air Force pilot.

It has not been a trouble-free voting day. Computer problems have been reported across the city and that led some people to leave lines rather than wait.

Ramon Garcia, however, came back, and the machines were working. He told me it was the first time he had voted in years.

An electoral official later said the voting system had malfunctioned because “ballot-on-demand” printers at polling stations, which print out according to a voter's precinct, had not worked properly. IT troubleshooters made “patch repairs” that resolved the problems, according to a statement.

Voting is to close at 7pm local time (0200 GMT). Although the turnout was reported as being strong in the opening hours it had slowed by lunchtime, with only a trickle of people entering several poll places I visited.

Numbers are likely to increase again in the final three hours as some voters cast their ballots after work. There has also been a greater incidence of early voting this year, so visible turnout tells only part of the story.

Paul Bentz, a pollster and political consultant in Phoenix told me that more independent voters had already cast ballots, a factor likely to help Ms Sinema. He also predicted turnout to come in at more than two million votes, about 55 per cent, although it could be even higher.

“If that happens it will be the largest number of votes ever in an Arizona off-cycle election,” he said.

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18:16 Guam goes Blue

The first result of the night saw Guam go Democrat, electing its first ever female Governor in Lou Leon Guerrero. It also represents the Democrats' first pick-up of the night, an office the Republicans held for the past eight years.

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18:00 First polls close in Indiana and Kentucky

The first polls in Indiana and Kentucky have closed. Keep an eye on Kentucky’s 6th Congressional District, where former marine Amy McGrath is trying to unseat Republican Andy Barr.

A win for Democrats in the historically red district could mean a blue wave is a reality tonight, while if the Republican stand their ground, their losses may not be as bad as anticipated in the polls.

In the Senate, a heated race between Democrat Joe Donnelly and Republican Mike Braun could be a harbinger of what awaits each party throughout the night.

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17:19 CNN exit poll suggests trouble for Trump

The first exit poll of the day is in, and it’s not good for President Trump. The poll, conducted by CNN, showed Mr Trump had an approval rating of just 44%, with 55% of respondents saying they disproved of his presidency so far.

The poll showed about 56% of respondents felt Trump is leading the country down the wrong track, just 41% feel he is taking America in the right direction.

It also showed that 16% of voters were voting in their first midterm - up from 10% four years ago, and a number that will probably favour the Democrats.

This is the first of many exit polls today, but it’s one the Democrats will be pleased to see.

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16:50 NYT: Trump mood 'gloomy'

According to the New York Times, the mood among the president and his aides is "gloomy". With no public events on his schedule, Mr Trump is said to be following the midterms in the White House, waiting to see whether "his dark closing message about the dangers of illegal immigration could once again help him defy the polls".

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16:40 Patient voters thwarted by long waits order in pizzas

Joyce Karam reports: Election problems are being reported in Georgia, Atlanta, where the waiting lines have exceeded in some cases three hours:

A malfunction in the voting machines and lack of capacity in some precincts for high turnout has led to the delays.

The Associated Press reported that 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". The problems are reportedly more prevalent in areas with majority of African-American voters:

The State is witnessing a race for Governor between Brian Kemp and Stacey Abrams.

The long lines have encouraged some to send pizza deliveries for those who are waiting to cast their vote:

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16:25 Georgia the focus of voting irregularities

The Washington Post reports that in Georgia voters have waited for more than four hours to vote at an elementary school in suburban Atlanta, where some voting machines were not working at the start of the day. Joyce Karam will be reporting on this soon.

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16:00 State of play

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15:55 Indiana judge orders polling stations to open late

A judge has ordered 12 polling places in a north-western Indiana county to stay open late after voting didn’t start as scheduled.

The Northwest Indiana Times reports that a Porter County judge ordered the polling sites stay open up to two and a half hours later than the scheduled 6pm closing time.

Porter County Clerk Karen Martin says some sites opened as much as 90 minutes late.

The Republican clerk blamed that on some expected poll workers quitting, some workers not picking up election supplies and sites not being open when poll workers arrived.

Democratic Portage City Councilman Collin Czilli says several voting sites didn’t open on time in that city and called the situation “unacceptable.”

Millions of Americans are casting votes Tuesday, and some are running into long lines, machine problems and other snafus.

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15:45 Homeland Security: Voting not compromised by cyber attacks

There has yet to be a concerted effort to disrupt the midterm elections, according to the Trump cabinet member with responsibility for overseeing defence against cyber attacks.

The Associated Press reports that homeland security secretary Kirstjen Nielsen has said that cyber-security officials are hoping for the best in the midterm election but preparing to react to the worst.

Ms Nielsen said that the election will be the most secure in the modern era. She was speaking Tuesday at a command centre where state and local officials are working with federal agents to share information on possible interference from foreign or domestic agents.

States run elections but Homeland Security is the federal department with the responsibility for cyber security and protecting the country’s election infrastructure.

Voters were managing long lines and malfunctioning machines, but those problems weren’t because of any foreign interference.

Ms Nielsen says no voting machines have been compromised, but there has been a misinformation effort by foreign groups eager to sow discord.

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15:20 Fox News says Hannity turn at Trump rally was “unfortunate”

Fox News, which has been highly partisan in its support of Donald Trump, has criticised one of its top stars, Sean Hannity, after he appeared alongside Donald Trump onstage at a campaign rally on Monday and referred to the press corps as “fake news".

According to Bloomberg, the network called Hannity’s appearance at the event in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, an “unfortunate distraction” and said it had been addressed. Fox News didn’t say if he faced consequences.

“Fox News does not condone any talent participating in campaign events,” the network said in a statement. “We have an extraordinary team of journalists helming our coverage tonight and we are extremely proud of their work.”

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15:05 VIDEO: Problems reported at Phoenix polling stations

Ramon Garcia, a retired carpenter, told Arthur MacMillan that there were problems when he tried to vote in Phoenix today.

“In 2018, can you believe it?” he said at his polling station, the Maryvale Church of the Nazarene. The 62-year old said he had not voted for years but came back an hour later and backed the Democratic Party because he is upset at the state of the country under Donald Trump.

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13:49 Technology issues not a factor in turnout

A US Homeland Security Official has told Reuters that technology issues have so far had "no significant impact" on voter turnout across the country.

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13:17 Early indications of high turnout

Anecdotal evidence suggests high turnout in Arizona and Oregon. One reports claims polling booths in Arizona have been running out of ballots, while in Oregon, turnout has already topped 49%. Four years ago, total turnout in the state was just 52%.

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12:45 Arizona votes

Turnout looks like being high in Arizona, reports The National's Arthur MacMillan from Phoenix.

Adrian Fontes, electoral recorder for Maricopa County, a large part of the city's metropolitan area, says 96,000 citizens voted in the first four hours since the polls opened, which is high for a midterm election and "more like what we see in a presidential election".

A total of 350,000 people cast ballots during 13 hours of voting in 2016, he said.

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06:00 Polls open on the east coast

The first ballots in the 2018 midterms elections have been cast. Voters on the east coast of the US started casting votes in House and Senate races.

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Vote, vote, vote! The drive for turnout on Twitter

Hours before the first polls open, the US political establishment is urging people to vote, preferably for the party they support.

President Trump has turned his Twitter account into a propaganda feed for his party, promoting local Republican candidates and personally attacking their rivals.

But Mr Trump's predecessor, who has unusually attacked the incumbent on the campaign trail, evoked his 2008 campaign message of hope in a long thread on Twitter.

As Americans went to sleep #VoteTuesday was trending globally on Twitter.

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Arab Americans double down on democracy in US midterms

Editorial: The midterms are a vote on the nature of the United States

In Arizona, a test for a Republican who belatedly embraced Trump

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What's the situation?

Donald Trump’s name may not on the ballot, but he remains a driving force in the minds of voters. He's certainly been acting like a candidate this week, staging daily double-header rallies and blasting out ads for Republicans.

Mr Trump faces potentially debilitating fallout should Republicans lose control of one or both chambers in Congress, ending two years of GOP hegemony in Washington.

A White House that has struggled to stay on course under favourable circumstances would be tested in dramatic ways. A president who often battles his own party would face a far less forgiving opposition.

On the flip side, if Republicans maintain control of the House and Senate, that's not only a victory for the GOP but a validation of Mr Trump's brand of politics and his unconventional presidency. Presidents Bush, Clinton and Nixon failed to do the same.

That result, considered less likely even within the White House, would embolden the president as he launches his own re-election bid.

But there is more than pride at stake. Republicans retaining control of the House and Senate would allow them to push forward with building a border wall, passing immigration reform and repealing Obamacare.

Moreover, it would make it easier to confirm another Supreme Court judge, if space becomes available.

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Read more on the midterms:

Arthur MacMillan: A town where Trump is the only politician people talk about

Gavin Esler: Midterms could be a repeat of Clinton's catastrophic errors in the 1990s

Rob Crilly: Former Democrats in Pennsylvania are sticking with Trump

Joyce Karam: US midterm results could constrain Trump’s Middle East agenda

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Millions of US electors cast early votes

Hordes of Americans have already voted ahead of polls opening on Tuesday, writes The National's Cody Combs.

Aside from absentee voting, which allows residents to vote when they are travelling outside the state or country, 37 states and the District of Columbia allow some form of early voting.

Read the full story here

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