Americans are bracing for the results after casting their votes in crucial mid-term elections that will act as a referendum on Donald Trump’s presidency so far and define the rest of his term.
Problem signs that arose during weeks of early voting carried into Election Day as some voters across the country faced hours-long lines, malfunctioning voting equipment and unexpectedly closed polling places.
Some of the biggest backups were in Georgia, where the governor’s race was among the nation’s most-watched contests and was generating heavy turnout.
Tuesday’s election marks the first nationwide voting since Russia targeted state election systems in the 2016 presidential race.
Federal, state and local officials have been working to make the nation’s myriad election systems more secure. They have beefed up their cybersecurity protections and improved communications and intelligence-sharing.
Representatives are being elected to both houses of Congress, the House and the Senate, with voters expected to pass judgement on Trump’s first two years in office.
As voters headed to the polls, celebrities and politicians took to social media to declare they had voted and urged others to do so too.
Donald Trump faces a referendum on his first two years in office on Tuesday as Americans go to the polls in the mid-term elections (pictured speaking in Ohio on Monday)
Among them was Ivanka Trump, who posted a video on Instagram stories from the balcony of her home in Washington DC urging her followers to ‘vote, vote, vote’ despite the dreary weather.
Demi Lovato returned to social media for the first time since her drug overdose in July to share a picture of herself at the voting booth after leaving rehab. ‘I am so grateful to be home in time to vote!’ she wrote alongside the snap.
Other famous faces – including Jessica Biel, Reese Witherspoon, Alyssa Milano and Drew Barrymore – proudly shared snaps of their ‘I Voted’ stickers on social media.
All 435 seats in the House are up for grabs, along with 35 out of 100 Senate seats and 36 governor’s jobs across the country.
The Republicans are trying to hold their majorities in both the House and Senate, while Democrats are trying to overturn those majorities in a so-called blue wave.
In the House, the Dems are expected to win, requiring a net gain of 23 seats in order to take control. However, the Republicans are expected to keep control of the Senate.
If the Democrats win the house, they have vowed to frustrate Trump’s political agenda, as well as opening up fresh investigations into the President which could include subpoenaing his tax records.
All 435 seats are on the ballot in the House of Representatives, with most polls forecasting that Democrats will take control from the Republicans
In the Senate the Democrats are facing an uphill battle because just 35 of the 100 seats are up for election, and they hold the majority of those already
If the Democrats manage to claim control of the upper house – where a gain of two seats is required – there will also be talk of impeachment, but this is a harder task than it sounds.
Democrats are defending 26 of the 35 contested Senate seats. Ten of those are in states Trump won by wide margins in 2016.
Of the nine Republican incumbents trying to save their jobs, four are considered safe.
Polls will begin closing from 6pm EST (11pm GMT, 10am AEDT) with results trickling in over the following hours. By 12am EST (5am GMT, 4pm AEDT) a clearer picture of the new landscape on Capitol Hill should have emerged.
Trump will watch the results come in at the White House, where he will be joined by family and friends.
At stake is Trump’s populist political movement. A win for Republicans would quash his critics within the party and embolden his pro-business, anti-illegal immigrant America First agenda.
But gains for the Democrats could cripple the president, leaving him unable to pass legislation, nominate justices or members of his cabinet, and prompt further investigations into his business affairs and tax papers.
There are also fears that a Democrat-controlled Congress could lead to Trump being impeached, with Robert Mueller still to deliver the results of his Russian election meddling probe.
Nationwide picture: Generic voting preferences show an uncertain national picture
Diddy announced his support for Gillum on Saturday ‘because he’s the best man for the job’, before taking part in the rally. Joining the pair on stage was Gillum’s wife R. Jai Gillum (right)
P Diddy held a rally alongside Democrat Andrew Gillum (second left) in Tallahassee on Monday night as he fights a close race with Republican Ron DeSantis. Also performing was comedian and actress Tiffany Haddish (right)
DeSantis (pictured) has attempted to paint Gillum as corrupt during the campaign, while Gillum accused him of pandering to racists and the far-right for support
President Trump has thrown his weight behind efforts to hold the Senate, engaging in a whirlwind series of rallies that has seen him on the stump for five days straight.
His late efforts might be wasted in portions of 37 states and the District of Columbia, however, where voters can cast their ballots early.
At least 36 million Americans voted before Election Day, many of them before the president engaged at full-throttle.
Campaigns spent more than $3.27 billion on TV and radio ads alone, and another $900 million in online ads, according to Kantar Media/CMAG, which tracks those numbers.
After Trump got into gear, he spoke to crowds in Democrat battleground states of Ohio, West Virginia, Indiana, Montana, Florida and Missouri.
He has also addressed the faithful in Tennessee, where the GOP hopeful is locked in a close race, and in Georgia, where the governorship is in the balance.
Missouri will be one of the Senate races to watch as the results come in, with Democrat Claire McCaskill running against Republican Josh Hawley.
Oprah has come out to endorse Stacey Abrams, who is running for governor in Georgia, while denouncing robocalls that have been made imitating her and using racist terms
Ivanka Trump spoke at her third rally of the day when she joined the president on stage in Missouri last night
Hannity interviewed President Trump for his Fox News show before he took the stage
Trump completed 11 campaign rallies in six days, his last Monday night in Missouri
In September, polls had both candidates tied on 47 per cent. Since then, NBC reports McCaskill has opened up a small lead with just 3 per cent undecided.
However, the lead is within the margin of error for election polls, and it could swing either way on the day.
A win here for McCaskill would keep Democrat hopes of seizing both the House and Senate alive, but a loss would put that goal almost out of reach.
Tennessee is another bellwether state, which sees Republican Marsha Blackburn going head-to-head with Democrat Phil Bredesen.
Neither has held the seat before and will be vying to replace Bob Corker, a Republican who is retiring.
Voting here will be a test of Trump’s appeal because of how closely Blackburn has allied herself to both the man and his policies.
The President’s personal approval rating is around 42 per cent nationally, which is low for an incumbent at this point in their first term.
Meanwhile Bredesen represents Democrat hopes to expand their base beyond states where they traditionally do well and into the American heartlands where Trump won big in 2016.
A Democrat has not held statewide office in Tennessee for 12 years, but latest polls suggest their efforts are failing, with Blackburn leading Bredesen by eight points.
Jennifer Wexton, who is standing as a Democratic congressional candidate in Virginia, speaks to a voter in the early hours
Voters line up to cast their ballots in the early hours of the morning in Columbus, Ohio
One closely-watched race is in Texas, where Republican Ted Cruz – who fought Trump for the presidency in 2016 – has been dragged into a close race with Beto O’Rourke
O’Rourke has emerged from relative obscurity to embody a Democrat party that hopes to galvanize the young and reach beyond its bases into America’s heartlands
Texas is another state that has landed itself on the Democrat list of targets despite no member of their party holding a Senate seat there since 1994.
Ted Cruz, who fought a bitter contest with Trump during the 2016 election but has since allied to him, is the incumbent, with Beto O’Rourke the challenger.
O’Rourke has come to represent what many Democrats hope will be the new face of their party – a young, firey progressive who has captured the youth vote while raising extraordinary amounts of money through small donations.
While most polls have Cruz leading by six points, the seat was considered solid red until O’Rourke arrived and brought it into contention.
Two governor’s races have also captured the attention of the nation in what have become bitter contests with race a central theme.
State governors act like presidents for the states they represent, and while they cannot affect Trump’s national agenda in the way that representatives and senators can, he will rely on their cooperation to implement his policies at a local level.
In Georgia, Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams are battling it out in a race which remains too close to call, and could drag on until next month.
Stacey Abrams is looking to become the first female African American governor in US history in Georgia, where she is taking on Brian Kemp
Kemp, another close ally of Trump, is locked in a neck-and-neck tie with Abrams amid allegations of racism and voter suppression
With a third candidate – Ted Metz – in the running, if none of them garners more than 50 per cent of the vote, the two top-finishers will advance to a run-off in December.
Kemp is a staunch ally of Trump who rallied for his man last week and declared Abrams to be ‘one of the most extreme far-left politicians in the entire country’.
Meanwhile Abrams has been endorsed by the likes of Oprah and Barack Obama and would become the first female African American governor in US history if elected.
During the campaign she has been targeted by racist robocalls mimicking Oprah’s voice and asking people to vote Kemp.
Meanwhile in Florida, Democrat Andrew Gillum is battling Republican Ron DeSantis, where racist robocalls have also been a feature of the campaign.
Gillum, who polls suggest is leading by up to seven points, has painted his opponent as pandering to racists and the far-right in order to win votes.
Meanwhile DeSantis has borrowed from Trump’s playbook by focusing on migration and jobs, while also trying to paint Gillum as corrupt.