It's election night in several key states

By Adrienne Vogt, Maureen Chowdhury, Leinz Vales, Josiah Ryan, Melissa Macaya, Meg Wagner and Melissa Mahtani, CNN

Updated 8:51 a.m. ET, November 3, 2021
8 Posts
Sort byDropdown arrow
12:38 p.m. ET, November 2, 2021

Virginia will elect a woman of color for the first time as lieutenant governor

From CNN's Chandelis Duster

Winsome Sears and Hala Ayala
Winsome Sears and Hala Ayala (Cliff Owen/AP)

Virginia is primed to elect a woman of color as its next lieutenant governor at a time when the commonwealth is facing a series of challenges that directly affect its Black and brown communities.

Regardless of whether it will be Democrat Hala Ayala or Republican Winsome Sears, they'll draw from their personal experiences as the next administration tackles challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic, crime, education and racial justice, even if they don't agree on the political remedies.

She will also face the aftermath of a racial reckoning that has brought the commonwealth into a national spotlight. The killing of George Floyd last year ignited emotional debates about policing and the lingering presence of Confederate imagery. The pandemic has hit Black and brown communities especially hard, and a contentious debate over the teaching of race in the state's public schools has emerged as a major issue in the gubernatorial campaign's final weeks.

Politically, Virginia has gone from a slave trading mecca that once held the capital of the Confederacy to a state that has trended blue in recent elections.

Two women of color are now running for its second-highest office, nearly two years after the state's General Assembly elected its first female speaker of the House in its 400-year legislative history.

All of this makes Ayala and Sears' candidacies "critical" for this moment in the commonwealth's history, Kimberly Peeler-Allen, a co-founder of Higher Heights, a national organization that seeks to help Black women get elected to political office, told CNN.

"It shows that people of color, women of color are not a monolith by any stretch, but it also speaks to the evolution of Virginia," said Peeler-Allen, who is also a visiting practitioner with the Center for American Women and Politics. "There's a lot of promise in advancing women of color in leadership in the commonwealth and the country by looking at this race."

Read more about Virginia's lieutenant governor's race here.

12:03 p.m. ET, November 2, 2021

Over 1 million voters have cast ballots so far, Virginia election official says

From CNN's Adrienne Vogt

Voters cast their ballots in Fairfax, Virginia, on Tuesday, November 2.
Voters cast their ballots in Fairfax, Virginia, on Tuesday, November 2. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

More than a million voters have already cast their ballots as of this morning, according to Christopher Piper, commissioner for the Virginia Department of Elections.

There are more than 5.9 million voters registered for this election, Piper said in a briefing, and more than 1 million have already voted.
Of those, about 862,000 voted early and in person, while 306,000 voted absentee by mail. Nearly 20% have already cast their ballots, he said.

"The Virginia General Assembly and the governor have worked together to expand access to the ballot, with early voting no-excuse, and other initiatives that have made voting easier here in Virginia," he said.

Piper said it's been a "pretty quiet" Election Day so far, with very minor issues at some polling locations, including a delayed 10-minute start at a middle school in Henrico County due to a medical situation. There were also reports of some scanner machines being jammed in the county, and "election officials are following the proper protocols" while waiting for technicians.

A power outage was reported at a polling location in Chesterfield County, and Piper said crews are on the scene. In Loudoun County, government office phones were offline this morning but now are back up, he added.

He encouraged voters to get out and cast their ballots today.

Polls close at 7 p.m. ET, and then registrar offices across the commonwealth will begin tabulating results, he said. If voters are in line at 7 p.m. when polls close, he reassured them that they can stay in line and will not be turned away.

Results will become official on Nov. 15 when they are certified by the state board of elections.

11:42 a.m. ET, November 2, 2021

This retired police captain could be gliding toward victory in New York

From CNN's Maeve Reston

New York democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams prepares to cast his vote at a voting center in Brooklyn, New York, on Tuesday, November 2.
New York democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams prepares to cast his vote at a voting center in Brooklyn, New York, on Tuesday, November 2. (Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images)

Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is all but certain to become New York City's next mayor, replacing Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio after vanquishing more progressive rivals in the primary. He's poised to be the city's second Black mayor, following the late David Dinkins who lost reelection in 1993.

Adams has largely shrugged off attacks from Republican nominee Curtis Sliwa, a founder of the volunteer neighborhood safety group known as the Guardian Angels and a media personality, who's tried to cast him as a career politician. They have disagreed over issues like the vaccine mandate for city workers, which Adams mostly supports and Sliwa does not.

Adams, a retired captain in the New York Police Department, often returns to the message that helped him win the June primary — that he is uniquely positioned to address the rise in crime in the city and lure back New Yorkers who left during the pandemic, as well as the tourists who are so critical to the city's economic success.

Adams won that primary by promising to step up policing throughout the city, but he also struck a careful balance: vowing to deal with police misconduct and highlighting his efforts to call out racism within the NYPD, as well as his testimony in the court case that ended the unlawful use of "stop and frisk" policies. (Adams says the tactic should be used, but under lawful guidelines.) He has argued that the current debate over policing has presented a false choice — a with-them or against-them mentality that he says undermines the community's need for police.

Adams built his primary victory in part on the strength of his base in the city's working-class outer boroughs, including places like the predominantly Black neighborhoods of Southeast Queens, rather than the most liberal enclaves of Manhattan and Brooklyn. But he has hustled since the primary to try to unify the city's voters behind him in the hopes of entering office with a strong mandate.

New York democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams holds a portrait of his late mother Dorothy Mae Adams as he speaks to the media and supporters upon leaving a voting center after casting his ballot in Brooklyn, New York, on Tuesday.
New York democratic mayoral candidate Eric Adams holds a portrait of his late mother Dorothy Mae Adams as he speaks to the media and supporters upon leaving a voting center after casting his ballot in Brooklyn, New York, on Tuesday. (Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images)

11:26 a.m. ET, November 2, 2021

"We feel pretty darn good," Virginia's Republican candidate for governor says

From CNN's Jeff Simon

Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin greets a voter outside Rocky Run Middle School in Chantilly, Virginia, on November 2.
Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin greets a voter outside Rocky Run Middle School in Chantilly, Virginia, on November 2. (Anna Moneymaker/Getty Images)

Under overcast skies and a chilly drizzle, Virginia GOP gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin arrived on Election Day to a quiet Rocky Run Middle School in Chantilly. 

“We feel pretty darn good, I have to say,” Youngkin said. “I’ve just felt this great surge of momentum for the last six to eight weeks.”  

Youngkin has run a strong race in a Democratic-trending state — which, if that translates into victory, would match Virginia's longstanding pattern of rewarding the party that lost the White House the year before. A Youngkin victory would be no surprise, though polls generally show a close race with Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe.

Youngkin said the takeaway from his campaign is that local issues are top of mind for voters.

“These kitchen table issues of low taxes and the best schools and the best jobs and safe communities – this is what people are worried about,” he said.

After a brief press gaggle, with all but one voter nearby, Youngkin asked for a basketball and walked to the back of the school to shoot hoops. He sunk his first shot from the free throw line and missed a number of other shots from the paint before his staff told him he had to run. His campaign bus continues to idle in front of the school.

9:50 a.m. ET, November 2, 2021

Why the GOP is poised for gains in 2022 regardless of who wins in Virginia today

Analysis from CNN's John Harwood

People cheer during a campaign rally for Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin in Leesburg, Virginia, on Monday, November 1.
People cheer during a campaign rally for Virginia Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin in Leesburg, Virginia, on Monday, November 1. (Al Drago/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

The political world eagerly awaits results from Tuesday's Virginia gubernatorial race, but they won't yield much new information about 2022 and beyond.

Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin has run a strong race in a Democratic-trending state — which, if that translates into victory, would match Virginia's longstanding pattern of rewarding the party that lost the White House the year before. A Youngkin victory would be no surprise, though polls generally show a close race with Democratic opponent Terry McAuliffe.

Republicans nationally are poised for gains in next year's midterm elections – reflecting the nation's longstanding pattern of rewarding the party that lost the White House two years before. So long as Americans remain uneasy about the pandemic, the economy, and President Biden's leadership, Democrats stand to lose control of Congress whether or not McAuliffe manages to keep the Virginia governor's mansion in his party's hands.

"If McAuliffe wins by one or loses by one, is the message going to be any different?" asked Larry Sabato, who directs the University of Virginia Center on Politics. "No – it's going to be a tough midterm."

The prospect of 2021 and 2022 elections following established trendlines says little in particular about Youngkin, McAuliffe, Virginia, congressional Democrats, or Biden. They simply represent new cast members in a familiar political play.

Read the full analysis here.

9:13 a.m. ET, November 2, 2021

What's at stake in the Virginia governor election

From CNN's Dan Merica

Voters cast their ballots at an early voting location in Fairfax, Virginia, on Saturday, October 30.
Voters cast their ballots at an early voting location in Fairfax, Virginia, on Saturday, October 30. (Eric Lee/Bloomberg/Getty Images)

If Terry McAuliffe wins, Democrats will take the victory as validation that a state that has trended blue over the last decade still stands behind President Biden's agenda and against Republicans, even if former President Trump is not on the ballot.

History is not on Democrats' side: Since the 1970s, the winner of Virginia's off-year gubernatorial election has nearly always come from the party in opposition to the White House. The only exception was in 2013, when McAuliffe won his first gubernatorial term a year after then-President Barack Obama won reelection.

But even if McAuliffe wins a tight race, the result could spell warning signs for Democrats in Washington, given Biden's 10-point victory there just last year and the fact that the party in power often loses seats in the subsequent midterms.

Democrats had hoped McAuliffe would be able to run on a successfully passed infrastructure package from the Biden administration, but continual delays on Capitol Hill and Democratic infighting made the prospect of a deal before Nov. 2 unlikely, something that McAuliffe has used to lambast Congress.

"I say: Do your job," he said earlier last month. "You got elected to Congress. We in the states are desperate for this infrastructure money. ... We need help out here in the states, and people elected you to do your job."

And while he has publicly argued the bill is more important for the people of Virginia than for his political fortunes, his aides and advisers have privately worried that dysfunction in Washington could spill into their race, especially in the vote-rich Northern Virginia suburbs.

For Glenn Youngkin, a win would reverberate far beyond Virginia — where a Republican has not won statewide in 12 years — and deliver the GOP a jolt of momentum heading into 2022. And while each campaign is different and Youngkin, who came into the race as largely a blank slate with unlimited money, is a unique figure, a possible win would validate his strategy of lauding Trump at times while also keeping him at arm's length.

"Regardless of whether or not he wins ... it looks like Youngkin is showing Republicans that they don't need to be wedded to Trump," said Doug Heye, a Republican consultant who previously served as the top spokesperson at the Republican National Committee. "Sure, they don't want to cross him and alienate his base. But, especially with Biden's low numbers and McAuliffe's vulnerabilities on things like education, Republicans can play on Democrats' field. That's the first step in putting Trump in the rearview mirror."

While there are some doubts among Republicans that the strategy could work in federal races, Heye says that because "all politics are national now," issues that were once hyper-local "will be talked about up and down the ballot."

The 2021 races are also the first time that voters have the opportunity to cast their ballots early without an excuse for having to do so after the Democratic-led state changed election laws. According to the Virginia Department of Elections, more than 734,000 Virginians have cast ballots already.

Conversations with McAuliffe and Youngkin supporters have shown a similarity in how each is approaching the race: Both are worried that wins by their opponents would turn Virginia into a vastly different kind of place. Democrats have told CNN repeatedly that a Youngkin win would turn Virginia into a Republican-dominated state like Georgia, Texas or Florida, while Republicans have openly worried that a McAuliffe win would turn the commonwealth into California.

If McAuliffe wins, "we are going to head down the path we are already going down with Biden," said Wanda Schweiger, a 61-year-old Youngkin supporter. "And it is a sinking ship."

Stacey Abrams, a former gubernatorial candidate in Georgia and a voting rights activist, made that case directly to voters over the weekend.

"If you want to figure out what could happen to you if you don't get out and vote, pick up a newspaper that talks about Georgia. If you want to know what happens in nine days, if we don't get out and vote, looking at what's happening in Texas," she said. "If you want to know what happens to Virginia, if we don't vote, if you don't turn out on November the 2nd, then remember what you felt like in November of 2016."
8:59 a.m. ET, November 2, 2021

Minneapolis voters will decide whether to replace city's police department with a public safety department

From CNN's Peter Nickeas and Omar Jimenez

(Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)
(Stephen Maturen/Getty Images)

Minneapolis voters are heading to the polls today to vote on whether the city's police department should be replaced with a public safety department.

Passage of the measure, requiring 51% of those voting on the question to answer "Yes," would lead to the creation of a "Department of Public Safety." If the city continued to employ police officers, they would be organized under that department. It would also remove a requirement to employ a minimum number of officers and would split authority for the new department between the mayor and city council.

Some background: The measure — which was proposed by an advocacy group called Yes 4 Minneapolis — comes more than a year after former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin killed George Floyd, a Black man, in May 2020.

Floyd's killing at the hands of a White police officer sparked national and global protests against police brutality, racism and social injustice.

Reporting from CNN's Maeve Reston and Emma Tucker contributed to this post.

7:58 a.m. ET, November 2, 2021

Key ballot measures will also be voted on today

From CNN's Veronica Stracqualursi

Voters will decide Tuesday on key ballot measures related to issues including policing, election reform and some proposals authored in response to Covid-19 restrictions.

While there are typically fewer ballot questions in an off-election year, there are 24 statewide ballot measures for consideration in six states, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

Voters in some major cities, in addition to choosing their next mayor, will also have the opportunity to weigh in on an important issue that has been heavily debated in their communities.

Read about the measures below: