The US congressional elections will take place on November 8 – but early voting has already begun in many places. The mood is sometimes extremely tense, in some areas election workers are sitting behind bulletproof windows.
The US congressional elections will take place on November 8 – but early voting has already begun in many places. In countless states, voters have been able to cast their ballots for the midterm elections early for weeks, not only by postal vote, but also in person at polling stations.
The atmosphere is sometimes extremely tense. According to a survey by the Reuters news agency, security measures have been tightened in 50 percent of all polling stations surveyed.
The measures seem justified: According to another study, every fifth election commissioner wants to resign before the 2024 presidential elections. The reasons mentioned: stress and fear of attacks.
Election workers in Flagstaff (Arizona) have recently been sitting behind bulletproof windows. In Phoenix, a judge ordered members of a right-wing group not to display their firearms within 250 feet of the polling station.
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Armed security guards stand outside polling stations in Jefferson County, Colorado. In Tallahassee, Florida, campaign workers received gunnery training.
Here, too, the walls of polling stations were lined with bulletproof synthetic fibers, which are normally used to make military helmets.
Videos of twenty black voters arrested in Florida also caused outrage. “Why are you arresting me?” Tony Patterson can be heard in a clip published by the New York Times.
The 43-year-old was handcuffed in front of his house as he was about to go to work. “Charges of voter fraud,” a police officer replied. The African American had cast his vote in the 2020 presidential election.
Republican governor Ron DeSantis had him arrested in a much-heralded “campaign against voter fraud.” The “Tampa Bay Times” was the first to get the arrest recordings of the police surveillance cameras.
After a change in the law in 2018, many former prison inmates in Florida regained their right to vote. However, this did not apply to all ex-prisoners without exception.
Convicted murderers and sex offenders must submit special applications. But the state ministry had given each of the twenty arrested a voting card after the end of their prison terms.
Lawyers say her recent police arrests were unlawful. In Florida, voter fraud has to be proven with intent – but those arrested had no idea that they were not allowed to vote.
“What’s wrong with this state?” Patterson asked. “You’re putting me in jail for something I didn’t know about. Why are you letting me vote if I can’t?”
Critics condemned the arrests as a political PR move by the Republican governor. Before the elections, Ron DeSantis wanted to polish his conservative image, so the accusation – first as Florida’s head of government, then for 2024 as a presidential candidate.
While Republicans praise the “fight against voter fraud”, opponents describe the arrests as targeted attempts to intimidate black voters, who previously voted predominantly Democratic.
The Democrats have enough to worry about anyway: according to the latest ABC News/Ipsos polls, the economic situation is the top priority for US voters.
While 36 percent of all respondents believe the Republicans are more capable of fighting inflation, only 21 percent trust the Democrats. Another priority for voters: rising crime rates.
Here, too, the Republicans score in polls. The Democrats are ahead when it comes to Covid-19, climate change, gun controls and rip-off rights. However, these topics have recently lost importance in surveys.
Joe Biden’s low approval rating doesn’t help his party either – and is also reflected in the election campaign: the president is hardly ever seen at Democrat events. At a rally in Florida on Tuesday, he seemed to confuse the Ukraine war with the war in Iraq.
Barack Obama now steps in for this more often. A spokesman confirmed Obama’s appearances at key midterm rallies. This corresponds to the wishes of party supporters: When asked who should determine the future direction, a meager 27 percent of all Democrats voted for Biden – 42 percent for Obama.
In turn, he recently called the Democrats “fun brakes”. Many political strategists interpreted Obama’s words as criticism of the party’s excessive pursuit of political correctness.
You urgently need messages about the economic situation, they demand – but in the extreme effort not to offend a minority, you completely lose touch with what voters are really concerned about.
“Sometimes people just don’t want to treat everyone with kid gloves,” Obama said on a podcast. “What does politics have to do with what matters most to people? With family, children, job, just having fun – and not being a fun killer? Because sometimes the Democrats are.”