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Key races, new rules: Election Day 2021 begins

Nov 02, 2021


Voters across the country headed to the polls for Election Day 2021 Tuesday. The video above shows scenes from Election in Virginia, New York City and Minneapolis. The Tuesday race getting the most attention is the Virginia gubernatorial race between Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin. The race is seen by many as a key indicator of how the 2022 midterms may go. A McAuliffe win could reassure Democrats heading into next year’s battle to maintain control of both houses. An upset by Youngkin could allow Republicans to say they’ve seized political momentum.

Several other races highlight Election Day 2021:

  • Key gubernatorial/mayoral races
  • A newfound emphasis on school board races
  • Voters in Minneapolis will vote on whether to disband the police
  • New election rules in place for the first time

New Jersey’s gubernatorial election features Democratic Gov. Phil Murphy trying to fight off a challenge from Republican Jack Ciattarelli. If Gov. Murphy wins easily, it may be a sign of hope for Democrats that they can survive 2022, should they deliver on Biden’s plans for a massive expansion of social safety net and climate change programs. If it’s closer, that’d be another promising indication for GOP hopes in the midterms.

While the Election Day 2021 mayoral races don’t have as many national implications, notable names on the ballot in major cities include:

  • In Boston, Michelle Wu, the 36-year-old daughter of Taiwanese immigrants, is running against Annissa Essaibi George, the daughter of Tunisian and Polish immigrants. Wu is a protégé of Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, and George has received support from the city’s traditional powerbrokers.
  • In New York City, voters will decide between Republican radio host Curtis Sliwa and Democrat Eric Adams. Adams won his party’s ranked-choice primary over the summer.
  • In Buffalo, self-described Democratic socialist India Walton takes on Democratic incumbent Byron Brown. Walton already beat Brown in the Democratic primary in June. Brown is running as a write-in candidate in the general election.

Focusing on smaller races, National conservative groups, big GOP donors, prominent Republican officeholders and former Vice President Mike Pence are pouring money in an effort to impact local school board races. School board meetings have been a target of parent activist groups who object to COVID-19 restrictions and school curricula that include instruction about institutional racism.

Minneapolis voters will decide whether to disband the current police department and replace them with a new Department of Public Safety. The vote comes nearly a year and a half after the murder of George Floyd at the hands of former officer Derek Chauvin.

Outside of all the Election Day 2021 races, Tuesday will serve as the testing ground for new voting rules enacted in the wake of the 2020 presidential election.

Last year, Virginia lawmakers expanded absentee voting by no longer requiring an excuse. However, a requirement for a witness signature on absentee ballots that was waived last year is back. Voters who have been turning in ballots without them will have until Friday to fix the issue or their ballots will not be counted.

In a few states, voters encountered tighter voting rules due to new laws. In Florida and Georgia, voters face new ID requirements for using mail ballots.

Scott Shaffer, Voter: “I supported number 2. Yeah, I supported the development of a new Department of Public Safety in Minneapolis. I think that the status quo is just horrible. And, yeah, really think that we need to change.”

Angela Mansfield, Voter: “Yeah, I’m in support of the public safety question. I feel like leadership that we have right now has had more than enough time to kind of show us next steps and what they’re going to take post-murder of George Floyd.”

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