IN their millions, Americans headed to the polls for the 2018 mid-term elections, convinced it would serve as a crucial verdict on President Donald Trump’s first two years in office. But what are the mid-term elections and why are they important?
Midterm elections occur halfway through each four-year presidential term of office, with key seats in both the houses of the United States Congress up for grabs.
All 435 seats in the lower chamber House of Representatives and 35 of the 100 upper chamber Senate seats will be at stake.
House of Representatives members serve two-year terms representing the people of a single constituency, while each state has two senators.
This year there are a record number of women on the ballot, which could significantly increase the number of women in elected office from a fifth of the 535 seats across both chambers.
There are also elections for 36 of the 50 state governors.
There are around 250 million Americans who are eligible to vote, but turnout in mid-term elections is typically about 40 per cent.
The elections will mark the first nationwide vote since Russia targeted state election systems in the 2016 US presidential race, but federal, state and local officials have sought to reassure the public that their voting systems are secure.
So far, there have been no signs that Russia or any other foreign agency has tried to launch cyber-attacks against voting systems in any state, according to federal authorities. Republicans have had control of the House since the 2010 mid-terms during Barack Obama’s first term as president. The Grand Old Party also controls the US Senate, with 51 of 100 seats.
But with Mr Trump’s first two years in office dividing opinion across the country, Democrats see these elections as a chance to take back control of both chambers of Congress from the Republicans.
This will leave President Trump unable to pass key laws through the houses. In order to take back control of the House, Democrats need to win 23 more seats, a number that many believe is possible.
But while the party only needs two more seats to take control of the Senate, this is likely to be a much tougher challenge for the Democrats. Control of the House is expected to be determined by a few dozen districts, many of them in the nation’s suburbs, and offer clues to where Americans stand in 2018 on immigration, guns, healthcare and gender equality in the #MeToo era.
Today could witness a generational and barrier breaking change in the US Congress. In New York City, 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is expected to become the youngest woman elected to Congress while Ayanna Pressley is the favourite to become Massachusetts’ first black woman elected to congress.
In Michigan, Rashida Tlaib could become the first Muslim woman and first Palestinian-American in office, in Arizona, Democrat Kyrsten Sinema the first openly bisexual senator.
CREDIT: By Joe Gammie, Press Association
This article provided by NewsEdge.