Here Are the Key Moments From Election Night 2018

As the votes were counted, The Intercept provided updates on the races that decided control of the House, the Senate, and several governor’s mansions.

Christian Cantrell, an 18 year old casts his vote for the first time in Charlotte, North Carolina on November 6, 2018. - Americans started voting Tuesday in critical midterm elections that mark the first major voter test of Donald Trump's controversial presidency, with control of Congress at stake.About three quarters of the 50 states in the east and center of the country were already voting as polls began opening at 6:00 am (1100 GMT) for the day-long ballot. (Photo by Logan Cyrus / AFP) (Photo credit should read LOGAN CYRUS/AFP/Getty Images)
Christian Cantrell, 18, cast his first vote in Charlotte, N.C., on Nov. 6, 2018. Photo: Logan Cyrus/AFP/Getty Images

As the polls closed across the United States on Tuesday — starting in parts of Kentucky and Indiana, at 6 p.m. ET, and concluding in Alaska seven hours later — The Intercept followed the vote count and brought readers updates on key races for control of the House, the Senate and governor’s mansions in a number of states.

Pelosi Claims Democratic Victory in the House, Republicans Keep the Senate

Following a string of Democratic wins in House districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016, and some unexpected gains in other areas, President Donald Trump called Rep. Nancy Pelosi to congratulate her on the Democrats taking control of the House, according to her deputy chief of staff, Drew Hammill.

When Pelosi spoke, she claimed her party’s victory would be “about restoring the Constitution’s checks and balances” and “stopping the GOP and Mitch McConnell’s assault on Medicare, Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act and the healthcare of 130 million Americans living with preexisting medical conditions.”

“Let’s hear it more,” she added awkwardly, “for pre-existing medical conditions!”

There was a more uplifting message for progressives from Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez at her victory party.

As votes continue to be counted in many races at the state and local level, Republican control of the Senate was also secure, with the party on track to add to its majority in that chamber.

That concludes our live coverage of election night, but stay tuned for much more analysis of the election results in the days and weeks ahead from The Intercept. — 12:51 a.m.

Beto O’Rourke Concedes Defeat in Texas

Beto O’Rourke, the Democratic candidate for Senate who gained a national profile in running a close race against Sen. Ted Cruz without accepting corporate PAC donations, just conceded defeat in El Paso in a speech that saluted the activists who helped him to run a close race in a state where a Democrat hasn’t been elected to statewide office since 1994. “I’m so fucking proud of you guys,” he said to huge cheers.

“It is the greatness to which we aspire and the work that we’re willing to put in to achieve it,” which will be the campaign’s legacy, O’Rourke added. — 12:15 a.m.

Emotional Victory Speech From Rashida Tlaib, First Palestinian-American Congresswoman

Rashida Tlaib, the first Palestinian-American woman to be elected to Congress, gave a emotional victory speech in which she described her family watching the results come in from the Israeli occupied West Bank, and said that “for so many years, they’ve felt dehumanized.” — 11:56 p.m.

Andrew Gillum Concedes Florida Governor Race

Democrat Andrew Gillum, the Tallahassee mayor, has just conceded defeat to Republican Ron DeSantis, a strong supporter of Donald Trump who started his general election campaign by suggesting that the African-American candidate would “monkey this up.”

In his victory speech, DeSantis made sure to thank Trump.

Gillum’s loss was a disappointment to Democrats, but many observers suggested that he could still have a bright future. — 11:11 p.m.

First Two Native American Women Elected to Congress

The first two Native American women to have ever been elected to Congress won House races for the Democrats on Tuesday. Deb Haaland, a member of the Laguna Pueblo in New Mexico just gave her victory speech, less than an hour after Sharice Davids, a Ho-Chunk from Kansas who is also a lesbian, claimed her seat.

A Native American woman, Peggy Flanagan, was also elected lieutenant governor of Minnesota.

As Ian Frazier of The New Yorker explained this week, while the federal government gave citizenship to all Native Americans in 1924, some states refused to go along. One of them was New Mexico, which did not allow Native Americans to vote until 1962. — 10:55 p.m.

Kris Kobach, of Voter Suppression Fame, Loses Kansas Governor Race

Kris Kobach, the Kansas secretary of state best known nationally for his role on President Trump’s bogus voter fraud commission, and locally as a champion of voter suppression, was defeated by Democrat Laura Kelly in the race to be that state’s governor.

While the loss is a blow to Trump, it was greeted with joy by supporters of free and fair elections. — 10:29 p.m.

Odds of Democratic House Majority Rise With Surprise Democrat Win in Staten Island District

In one of the first upsets of the night, Democrat Max Rose defeated Republican incumbent Dan Donovan in New York’s 11th Congressional District, encompassing Staten Island and part of Brooklyn.

That swing to the Democrats came as a series of House races were called in the party’s favor, increasing its odds of controlling the House to a 9-in-10 chance according Nate Silver’s FiveThityEight model.

Democrats Post Gains in House Races, but Lose Indiana Senate Seat

Within the past few minutes, Republican Rep. Carlos Curbelo of Miami has conceded defeat in Florida, handing the Democrats another win in their effort to regain control of the House, while Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly has conceded in Indiana, making it more likely that Republicans will control the Senate. — 9:56 p.m.

Curbelo’s loss to Debbie Mucarsel-Powell is the sixth Democratic gain of 25 Republican-held districts won by Hillary Clinton in 2016. — 10:09 p.m.

Florida Votes to Restore Voting Rights to Ex-Felons

While Republican candidates in Florida currently cling to narrow leads in the elections for governor and the Senate, media outlets project that voters in the state have approved a ballot initiative to restore voting rights to 1.4 million residents who are currently unable to vote because of prior felony convictions.

As my colleague Alice Speri reported, this change “will enfranchise the largest number of people at once since American women won the right to vote in 1920.”

As several observers note, the impact of such a massive restoration of voting rights on future elections could be enormous. — 9:22 p.m.

Kim Davis, Kentucky County Clerk Who Refused to Issue Licenses for Same-Sex Marriages, Loses Bid for Reelection

Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who was jailed in 2015 after defying a federal court order by refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in 2015, lost her bid for reelection in Rowan County.

Davis, a Republican, lost to Democratic challenger Elwood Caudill Jr. by about 700 votes.

“The controversy launched this mostly-rural Kentucky county into the national spotlight,” Will Wright of the Lexington Herald-Leader reports. “It gave Davis a hero’s reputation to some on the right, including Gov. Matt Bevin and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, who lauded her decision as a self-sacrificing expression of religious liberty. For many on the left, though, Davis was condemned. Critics called her refusal to sign marriage licenses a bigoted neglect of her official duties.” — 8:16 p.m.

Georgia Voters Ask Federal Court to Block Secretary of State From Presiding Over His Own Race for Governor

A group of voters in Georgia filed suit on Tuesday afternoon asking the United States District Court in Atlanta to issue a temporary restraining order barring Secretary of State Brian Kemp from overseeing the counting of votes in the election for governor, in which he is the Republican candidate. The lawsuit also asks that Kemp play no part in 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, on which he also sits.”

Kemp is locked in a close race with Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate, which could go to a runoff if neither of them gets 50 percent of the votes.

Rick Hasen, a professor of law and political science at the University of California–Irvine School of Law, called Kemp’s evidence-free, last-minute claim that Georgia’s Democratic Party had hacked into the state’s voter database, “perhaps the most outrageous example of election administration partisanship in the modern era.” As Hasen noted, Kemp even “plastered a headline about it on the Secretary of State’s website, which thousands of voters use to get information about voting on election day.”

Kemp’s campaign has also been criticized for spreading lies about Abrams through automated robocall, including one, recorded by CNN, which made the absurd claim that “radical Stacey Abrams is so extreme that she wants to allow illegal immigrants to vote in this election.”

Kevin Collier of Buzzfeed News points out that any recount in Georgia faces an obvious obstacle — the state uses electronic voting machines which give voters no paper copy or receipt to ensure that their vote was properly cast. — 7:50 p.m.

Voting Extended in Parts of Georgia and Texas Due to Delays

As polling places were scheduled to close across Georgia at 7 p.m. Stacey Abrams, the Democratic candidate for governor, announced that voting hours had been extended in districts of Gwinnett County where computer problems caused long delays earlier in the day.

Abrams also reminded voters already in line at other polling places that they have a right to vote even afte the official closing time. “I need folks to know that you need to stay in line,” Abrams said, according to an MSNBC producer. “Do not let trouble push you out of line. As long as you’re in line at 7 p.m. when the polls close, you can cast your vote,” she said.

Her message was echoed by Democrats in other states, including Andrew Gillum, who is running for governor of Florida.

Voting has also been extended in parts of Indiana and Texas, where the polls have not yet closed. — 7:22 p.m.

Errors and Delays Plague Voting Nationwide

Polling places in parts of Kentucky and Indiana have just closed, but voting continues in most of the nation on an election day that has been plagued, as usual, by reports of malfunctioning equipment, errors on voter rolls and long delays. Eighteen years after the debacle in Florida focused the world’s attention on the patchwork of local election laws and procedures used to elect state and federal officeholders, complaints about how difficult it was to vote in many states piled up throughout the day on social networks. — 6:10 p.m.

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