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Voters crowd polling stations as US delivers verdict on Trump

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Andrew Menck didn ’ t bother to vote in the last seven midterm elections but , determined to deliver a rebuke to Donald Trump ’ s presidency , he joined the lines outside his local polling station that built up before dawn .
“ I disapprove of the president’ s actions , ” said the 34 – year – old , a Chicago voter who sees his ballot as a chance for real scrutiny of a president who has enjoyed a largely free hand from the Republican -controlled US Congress .

“ I don’ t know if he ’ s necessarily held accountable . Republicans hold the House and Senate . ”

Menck was among millions of Americans heading to the polls Tuesday in the first major voter test of Trump ’ s chaotic, often controversial presidency .

Massive early numbers — more than 35 million ballots have been cast ahead of polling day compared with fewer than 20 million in 2014 — sparked optimism that heavy rain in the eastern United States would not depress turnout .

A suburban Chicago polling station reported twice the number of voters compared to 2016 — a presidential election year — while in downtown Chicago , people gathered before polls opened at 6 : 00 am ( 1100 GMT ) .

“ The message that I ’ m going to send is : We ’ re not okay with the direction that this president is leading our country , ” said Rory Mabin , a 34 – year -old Chicago resident who votes in every midterm election .

“ I ’ m not okay with traveling abroad and being ashamed for the first time to say that I ’ m American . ”

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James Gerlock , a 27 – year – old Republican , said , however , that he was happy with the economic growth the country has seen under Trump ’ s presidency and “ just ( loves) the deregulation . ”

In the Chicago suburb of Downers Grove , at a church along a leafy street , 500 people had voted in the first two hours of the morning — twice as many as two years ago , according to poll worker David Mendalski.

The story was the same in Maryland , where a Montgomery County election official reported that turnout has been “ astounding ” early on , speculating that it might also surpass participation in presidential elections.

– ‘ I ’ m hopeful ’ –

“ People have marched, people have done other things , but this is the first opportunity they’ re getting to really speak out and make their vote their voice , ” former lawyer Diane Vogel told AFP at a polling station in Arlington , Virginia .

“ So I ’ m hopeful that it will be the biggest turnout that midterm elections have ever seen . ”

There was a sense of urgency among voters flocking to the Brooklyn Museum in New York City, where production artist Gilad Foss warned that democratic values were “ kind of under attack . ”

Across the East River in Manhattan , high school senior Ayla Jeddy voted after turning 18 in September — just in time to register .

“ I looked up all the candidates last night , and I did vote for candidates who opposed the most egregious of ( Trump ’ s ) policies : his immigration policies … and his attitude towards women in general , ” she said , proudly displaying an “ I voted ” sticker on her jacket .

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In Georgia , Stacey Abrams , 44 , the former minority leader of the state House of Representatives , is running for governor against Republican Brian Kemp , the 55 -year – old Georgia secretary of state .

Abrams , who has received the support of Oprah Winfrey and other celebrities , would be the first black woman to become governor of a US state if she wins .

“ I really wanted to vote for the first female African – American governor , so that was one of the major driving forces , to be honest, ” Lia Koski, casting her ballot in Atlanta , told AFP .

One of the most expensive and closely watched Senate races is in Texas , where incumbent Republican Senator Ted Cruz is facing pro- immigration Democratic Representative Beto O ’ Rourke .

At a polling station in his home town , the border city of El Paso , Carlos Gallinar enthused that O ’ Rourke was “ just great for El Paso , great for Texas , great for United States . ”

“ With all the issues that are happening across the country and the negative energy coming out of Washington and this president , it ’ s great to see someone like Beto who has great energy , great enthusiasm, ( a ) positive great message . ”

( AFP )

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