The day is finally here. It’s Election Day 2018 and the stakes have never been higher during mid-term elections. This is a decisive moment, and the country is at a crossroads deciding whether it wants to continue on the path it is on for the next 2-4 years, or if it will decide to enact change. There are some key races to watch out for tomorrow…all of them (know who is taking control of the country, seriously.) All eyes are of course on Florida, where Democrat Andrew Gillum is vying to become the first Black governor in the state. Then there is of course the contentious race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp in Georgia. If Abrams wins on Tuesday night in the neck-and-neck race, she will become the first Black female governor in the United States. However, the gubernatorial race in Georgia has been locked in controversy, with Kemp being accused of various tactics of voter suppression, including stalling voter registration applications, and removing otherwise perfectly eligible voters from the voting rolls under Georgia’s “use it or lose it” policy. Aside from Abrams, there are of course all the women represented in the Chisholm List, Black women breaking ceilings, taking control of office, taking a stand for something, following in the footsteps of iconic Black congresswoman Shirley Chisholm. Special races from the list to keep an eye on include: Lucy McBath, who is running to represent Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. Deidre DeJear, who is running to be Iowa’s next Secretary of State Ayanna Pressley, who is running to represent Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District. Pressley won in an upset victory against Democrat incumbent Michael Capuano, and is currently unopposed but it will still be fun to watch the deal be sealed. Ilhan Omar, running to represent Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District. Keep a watch out on this post, as we update it live throughout the day! _________________________________________________________________________________

Federal Agencies Say They’re Prepared to Protect America’s Elections

Amid allegations of voter suppression and concerns about foreign interference, several key federal agencies indicate they’ve taken steps to protect America’s elections. The heads of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS), U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), the Office of the Director of National Intelligence (DNI), and the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) all say they are coordinating with federal, state, local, and private sector partners nationwide. DHS Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Attorney General Jeff Sessions, FBI Director Christopher Wray and others recently released the following joint statement: “Our agencies have been working in unprecedented ways to combat influence efforts and to support state and local officials in securing our elections, including efforts to harden election infrastructure against interference. Our goal is clear: ensure every vote is counted and counted correctly. At this time we have no indication of compromise of our nation’s election infrastructure that would prevent voting, change vote counts, or disrupt the ability to tally votes.” “But Americans should be aware that foreign actors – and Russia in particular – continue to try to influence public sentiment and voter perceptions through actions intended to sow discord. They can do this by spreading false information about political processes and candidates, lying about their own interference activities, disseminating propaganda on social media, and through other tactics. The American public can mitigate these efforts by remaining informed, reporting suspicious activity, and being vigilant consumers of information…” The statement adds that “the United States will not tolerate foreign interference in our elections from Russia, China, Iran, or other nations,” and that on September 12, President Trump signed an executive order that “makes clear the U.S. government will not hesitate to defend our electoral processes or punish those who attempt to undermine them.” The agency heads indicated they have “been making preparations for nearly two years” in advance of today’s midterm elections and are “closely engaged” with officials on the ground to help them ensure the voting process is secure. “Americans can rest assured that we will continue to stay focused on this mission long after polls have closed,” the statement concludes. -Donna M. Owens  

Trump’s Election Day Plans

Where will president Donald Trump be spending Election Day? Per the White House press pool, Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the following: “After 11 rallies in eight states and weeks of campaigning for Republican candidates, the President will spend today making phone calls, monitoring Congressional, Senate and Gubernatorial races across the country and meeting with his political team for real-time updates. Later this evening the President and First Lady have invited family and friends to join them in the residence as they watch election returns.” -Donna M. Owens  

Tinder and Election Assistance 

Tinder is not just for dating.  Today, the team behind the popular app is reminding users that if they have time to swipe then they have time to vote. The company says that on election day in 2016, U.S. Tinder users in the 18-34 age group swiped on more than 380 million profiles. In total, users spent nearly 120 million minutes on the app. So the Tinder team is reminding users that #EverySingleVote counts by offering to give back some of the time it takes to get off  Tinder and to the polls. Once users make it through the line at the polls, Tinder will provide the first 200 users who tweet a photo of themselves with their “I voted” sticker (tag @Tinder and use hashtag#EverySingleVote) with 30 minutes at the front of the line on Tinder using a free Boost — giving them more profile views. In addition, Tinder will be serving in-app profile cards highlighting #EverySingleVote and directing users to resources from Rock The Vote, including where to cast their ballot. For more details, visit Swipe Life. –Donna M. Owens Sen. Booker on Voting, Decency and Love Amid record early turnout (an estimated 36 million people) even before today, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) appeared on CNN’s Cuomo Primetime to discuss the midterms. “I think people are going to the polls right now because they want to define America,” Booker told host Chris Cuomo. “This is the time for the power of the people to demonstrate that they’re more powerful than the guy that’s in power.” Asked about racist ads and rhetoric, Booker remains hopeful, saying he believes Americans will still cast ballots based on such principles as “decency” “honor” “kindness” and “love.”  -Donna M. Owens CONGRESSMAN JOHN LEWIS Votes in Atlanta, urges #goodtrouble Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) has marched with Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., strategized with fellow students, and been brutally beaten in his quest to help give African Americans the right to vote and live with full dignity in America. Today, the civil rights icon cast his ballot, reportedly at the Wolf Creek Library polling location in Atlanta. Recently Lewis Tweeted: “…Have courage, raw courage, and let nothing stop you from exercising your right to vote in this election.” He signed off with his now popular hashtag #goodtrouble. Last year, Rep. Lewis endorsed Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, a fellow Democrat who is vying to become the first black woman governor in U.S. history. He’s praised Abrams as the most qualified candidate in the race and one with a proven record of leadership. -Donna M. Owens   Black Law Enforcement Group Encourages Voting The National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) represents some 3,000 members nationally and globally—most of whom are chief executive officers of law enforcement agencies at the federal, state, county and municipal level. NOBLE, whose mission includes ensuring “equity in the administration of justice “to all communities,” and serving as the “conscience of law enforcement” has spoken out about police involved killings of Black men and women, to supporting the rights of NFL players who `take a knee’ to protest police violence. Now the group is encouraging Americans of all races, genders and ethnicities to vote regardless of political party. “Voting is a civil right that allows Americans to choose elected officials that represent their interests and concerns. When we vote we have an opportunity to make a difference in the lives of others and ourselves,” said Vera Bumpers, NOBLE national president. “Your elected officials are hired by you, and today you get to choose who represents you and our democracy.  Voters should not only know the candidates that are running for office, but also understand the issues and how each candidate plans to address them.” -Donna M. Owens   Even Brian Kemp Had Issues Voting During Elections What was that that Oprah said? Oh, that’s right, god don’t like ugly and Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp, who is running against Stacey Abrams in Georgia apparently had troubles voting on Tuesday evening. The gag? Kemp, as the current Secretary of State, oversees the election process in Georgia. And his race against Abrams has sparked accusations of voter suppression as he is being accused of stalling voter registration applications and removing otherwise eligible voters from the voter rolls just because they hadn’t voted in previous elections. According to Time, Kemp had an issue with his voter card when he went to vote, but he got it resolved rather quickly. Ironic, considering that voters had reported widespread technical malfunctions across the state and long lines, further stoking accusations of suppression. An emergency lawsuit was filed on Tuesday by a group of Georgia voters who want to ensure that Kemp will not be involved in the counting of votes, the certification of results, or any runoff or recount procedures, that would normally be exercised by the Secretary of State’s Office, or the Board of Elections, (a board on which Kemp also sits.) Basically, the voters don’t think that Kemp should be involved in any of the process since he is competing in such a contentious race, which one would think made sense but yet here we are. -Breanna Edwards   If You Are Waiting To Vote In These Precincts In Georgia You Still Have Time! The Georgia NAACP is working hard to make sure everyone has a chance to vote, so if you are in the precincts near Spelman and Morehouse you have until 10 p.m. to vote, thanks to a lawsuit that the civil rights group won. Other polling stations have been impacted by the lawsuit, including the Washington and Archer polling stations and the Pittman Park Recreational Center polling station, so if any of those names sound familiar you’ve still got SOME time to vote. -Breanna Edwards     Ayanna Pressley Wins Victory in Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District
Ayanna Pressley has been being elected to represent Massachusetts’ 7th Congressional District in the U.S. House. 
Pressley, who won the Democratic primary and ran unopposed, was backed by groups such as Higher Heights for America and Emily’s List.  Stephanie Schriock, president of EMILY’s List, released the following statement:
“EMILY’s List was proud to award Ayanna Pressley with our Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award in 2015 and we are beyond thrilled to congratulate her on tonight’s historic victory,” said Schriock. “Ayanna was the first woman of color elected to the Boston City Council in 2009, and tonight, she becomes the first African American woman to represent any New England state in Congress. Ayanna has spent her career in public service fighting for expanded economic opportunity and focusing on issues unique to girls and women. EMILY’s List has long believed in Ayanna’s potential and we look forward to welcoming her to Congress.”
-Donna M. Owens   Floridians Vote To Pass Amendment 4, Restoring Ex-Felons’ Right to Vote  Florida has voted to automatically restore the rights of those convicted of felonies once they have concluded their sentences. Those convicted of murder or sex crimes will be excluded from the impact of Amendment 4. It is a huge win for the more than 1 million citizens who have already served their time for past mistakes, and for black voting power, as, with almost everything else in this country, black folk were heavily impacted. Before the passing of the Amendment, former felons had to wait at least five years after the completion of their sentences before they could petition to the Florida Clemency Board for the restoration of their rights. -Breanna Edwards   Ilhan Omar has been elected to represent Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District in the U.S. House.  In 2016, Omar made history in her Minnesota state House election and tonight, she makes history again as the first Somali American in Congress as well as the first Muslim woman elected to Congress. Omar, who was endorsed by Higher Heights, Emily’s List and other groups, has dedicated her career to serving her community, uplifting communities that did not feel heard, and speaking truth to power. -Donna M. Owens   Live From Stacey Abrams’ Election Watch Event: Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms, Rep. John Lewis Rally The Crowd Atlanta got a Mayor named Keisha, and according to that mayor, Keisha Lance Bottoms it will soon have a Governor named Stacey Lance Bottoms came out to support Abrams at her election night gathering, rallying the already buzzing crowd together. “Do you know what’s possible in the state of Georgia?” Lance Bottoms inquired as she touted the things accomplished in the past year that she’s been mayor. Cash bail bonds have been eliminated in the city, there are HIV and AIDS support services for the first time in the city, she proudly pushed. “What will happen in this state is people that don’t have health insurance will now have the ability to have their basic health needs met. For people like me who went to school relying on Pell Grants, loans, and nickels and dimes, there will be expanded access to education in our state and people will get jobs…” she added, pushing some of Abrams key issues. Rep. John Lewis, famous for his call to make #goodtrouble also took the stage to encourage voters. “We can win and we must win. Be hopeful, be optimistic, it’s a lot of vote out there, they just need to be counted,” he said. “The vote is still the most powerful, non-violent tool that we have in our democratic society and we must use it.” “Be bold. Be courageous. Be brave, and when you see something that is not right, not fair, not just, say something, do something.Don’t give up tonight. Hang in there” he added. -Breanna Edwards   Andrew Gillum Ends Gubernatorial Bid, Concedes to Ron DeSantis It is a huge blow for anyone who expected to see Florida elect its first Black governor, or for anyone who hoped to enact change and step away from the Trump-ism that DeSantis displayed. But the polls have said it all, and Republican Ron DeSantis will be the next Governor of Florida following a racially charged campaign.  According to the San Diego Union Tribune, Gillum conceded just before 11 p.m. “We didn’t win it tonight,” Gillum said in a concession speech the report notes.  “What we believe in still holds true.” To the bitter end, the race was a nail-biter. According to CNN data, with 99 percent of precincts reporting DeSantis won with 49.9 percent of the vote (4,015,176 votes) and Gillum losing with 48.9 percent (3,938,351). -Breanna Edwards   Lauren Underwood Clinches Victory In Illinois’ 14 Congressional District The registered nurse will now be known as “congresswoman” to all of us. Underwood won out longtime Republican incumbent Randy Hultgreen in the Chicago-area district, according to the Associated Press. Underwood is one of the many black women running that were represented on ESSENCE’s #ChisholmList.  -Breanna Edwards   Live From Stacey Abrams’ Election Watch Event: Supporters Keep The Faith  It’s getting late in Georgia, but at 11:45 p.m., supporters at Stacey Abrams’ election night watch party are still going strong: chatting, dancing and mingling. Speakers at the event encouraged supporters to keep the faith and stay focused even as results show Abrams trailing behind Brian Kemp with some 95 percent of the votes in. Supporters took a break from mingling to chant “Stacey Abrams” in the middle of room before continuing their watch. -Breanna Edwards   Live From Stacey Abrams’ Election Watch Event: Stacey Abrams’ Camp Refuses To Back Down It is now technically Nov. 7, with the clock reading at 12:07 a.m., but the Abrams’ camp is in it for the long run. The Democratic camp is putting forward its best foot, telling supporters patiently waiting that the results coming in from DeKalb county has cut Kemp’s lead in half. Kemp is currently only leading by just over 100,000 votes, and it is clear that Abrams’ campaign is hoping for an upset, or a possible runoff as votes continue to be counted. -Breanna Edwards   Senate Remains In Control Of Republicans, But Democrats Have Secured The House Majority Democrats will be the new majority in the United States House of Representatives, having flipped the 23 seats it needed, As Reuters note, with the House majority, things could become difficult for Trump, who has enjoyed the advantages of having a Republican-led Senate and House for the past two years. Democrats will be able to investigate Trump’s tax returns, and possible conflicts of interests through his businesses, as well as looking into whether his campaign colluded with Russia. -Breanna Edwards.    Live From Stacey Abrams’ Election Watch Event: Campaign Manager Lauren Groh-Wargo, ‘We Will fight For Every Vote’ It is 1:15 a.m. in Atlanta, Ga. and Stacey Abrams gubernatorial campaign shows no sign of backing down, with campaign manager Lauren Groh-Wargo promising that every vote will be fought for. Groh-Wargo took the stage at the election watch event, praising the millions of Georgians who went out to let their voices be heard, while underlining the thousands of votes yet to be accounted for. Groh-Wargo said that Abrams’ campaign was looking at three main factors here, including 1) outstanding votes which she said are left to be counted, most of them coming from “Democratic strongholds,” 2) the tens of thousands of absentee ballots yet to be counted which the campaign believes belong to Abrams’ voters, and 3) the unknown number of provisional ballots that are unaccounted for The campaign manager slammed Brian Kemp’s handling of the election process. “Given those three issues we believe, we do not know, but we believe this is headed for a run off,” Groh-Wargo said. “So it’s going to still be a long night. This is not ending soon, and we’re unlikely to have anything definitive to say until the morning.” “But hear me clearly Georgia voters,” she added, her voice, firm, clear, ringing. “We will fight for every vote. Every vote.” -Breanna Edwards   Live From Stacey Abrams’ Election Watch Event: No Backing Down From Abrams’ Camp As Abrams’ Alludes To ‘Do-Over’ Stacey Abrams is prepared to fight for Georgia with everything she has, determined to serve her state and her country. At 1:36 a.m. on Wednesday, Abrams’ took the stage to cheers and hundreds of people chanting her name. “When you chose me as your Democratic nominee, I made you a vow, In our Georgia no one would be unseen, no one is unheard and no one is uninspired,” she said starting her impassioned remarks. In Georgia civil rights have always been an active will and a battle for our souls. Because we have been fighting this fight since our beginnings and we have learned a fundamental truth, democracy only works when we work for it, when we fight for it, when we demand it,” she added. ” Votes remain to be counted. There are voices that are waiting to be heard….We’re going to make sure that every vote is counted. Every single vote.” Abrams continued: “Our best lives are within reach. Fully founded public education in the state of Georgia. Medicaid expansion. And raising family incomes without raising taxes,” Abrams continued, speaking from some of her key platform issues. “Every Georgian that we have touched along the way understand the power of the vote and this election has tested our faith. I’m not going to name names but some have worked hard to take our voices away, to scare us away, to distract us…but our vision is clear and we see the finish line.” Abrams, like her campaign manager, hinted strongly at a runoff election, quipping “If I wasn’t your first choice, or if you made no choice at all, you’re going to have a chance to do a do-over.” “We don’t need to agree on everything but I will always respect you and I will do everything I can to keep you safe and help you live your best lives,” she added. That’s what leadership requires at this moment and it’s how we breathe life back into our republic when it seems to be shallow of breath.” “We are still on the verge of history and the best is yet to come,” the fierce candidate said wrapping up her comments. “This is not about me. It’s about us. It’s about our voices. It’s about our votes. It’s about our time. Our voices.” As Abrams ended her comments to more cheers and applauds, supporters finally started to leave the watch party. But tomorrow (or later today) brings more news as the final votes continue to roll in. -Breanna Edwards