NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Music superstar Taylor Swift announced Sunday she’s voting for Tennessee’s Democratic Senate candidate Phil Bredesen, breaking her long-standing refusal to discuss anything politics.
“In the past I’ve been reluctant to publicly voice my political opinions, but due to several events in my life and in the world in the past two years, I feel very differently about that now,” Swift wrote in an Instagram post .
Swift has faced criticism for not speaking about political issues despite having a global platform. Yet in 2017, she appeared on the cover of Time magazine as one of the “silence breakers” for her countersuit against a radio DJ who was fired after allegedly groping her before a concert. Swift won the lawsuit in a verdict that awarded her $1, which according to the suit served as “an example to other women who may resist publicly reliving similar outrageous and humiliating acts.”
The pop star — who spent later years growing up in Tennessee — also slammed Republican candidate and U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn in her lengthy post on Sunday, citing Blackburn’s opposition to certain LGBTQ rights and voting against the Reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act in 2013.
“As much as I have in the past and would like to continue voting for women in office, I cannot support Marsha Blackburn. Her voting record in Congress appalls and terrifies me,” Swift wrote.
Blackburn’s campaign did not immediately return a request for comment.
Swift said she’s not only voting for the former Tennessee governor for Senate, but also Democrat Jim Cooper for the House.
However, Swift didn’t acknowledge Bredesen’s recent endorsement of Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, but said people may never find a candidate or party with whom they agree completely on every issue.
“Thank you for the kind words … I’m honored to have your support and that of so many Tennesseans who are ready to put aside the partisan shouting and get things done. We’re ready for it,” Bredesen tweeted Sunday in response to Swift’s post.
SEAN HANNITY SAID HE WOULDN’T CAMPAIGN ON STAGE AT TRUMP’S RALLY. HOURS LATER, HE DID EXACTLY THAT
(CNN) — Sean Hannity defied his own words on Monday.
Ahead of President Donald Trump’s final election rally, the Fox News host said he wouldn’t appear on stage with the President to help excite the Republican base before voters head to the polls Tuesday.
“To be clear, I will not be on stage campaigning with the president,” Hannity tweeted Monday morning, adding that he would simply “be doing a live show” from the scene.
In spite of reports, I will be doing a live show from Cape Girardeau and interviewing President Trump before the rally. To be clear, I will not be on stage campaigning with the President. I am covering final rally for my show. Something I have done in every election in the past.
— Sean Hannity (@seanhannity) November 5, 2018
A Fox News spokesperson offered a similar message to CNN and other news organizations, insisting Hannity would only be at the rally in Missouri to broadcast his show and cover the event for the network.
But, approximately 12 hours after Hannity posted his tweet, he was campaigning on stage with Trump.
A Fox News spokesperson didn’t respond to requests for comment Monday night about Hannity’s appearance at the rally, which was one of the clearest demonstrations yet of the cozy relationship between the network and the Trump White House.
It happened almost immediately after Trump took the stage in Missouri following an introduction from conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh, who had warmed the crowd up.
Trump, who had appeared live on Hannity’s show during a backstage conversation just moments before, summoned the Fox News host to the stage, and he obliged.
Hannity’s first remark on stage with the President? He attacked members of the media covering the rally, saying, “By the way, all those people in the back are fake news.”
As observers pointed out, Fox News journalists were among the “people in the back” that Hannity insulted.
Hannity later said he had “no idea” Trump planned to call him to the stage.
He wasn’t the only Fox News host to appear on stage at the rally. Following Hannity’s brief remarks, Trump introduced Jeanine Pirro.
“There’s a woman on Saturday night who treats us very well,” Trump said, praising Pirro’s fiery opening monologues as “always brilliant.”
When Pirro took the stage, she urged the crowd to turn out the vote for Republican candidates.
Hannity and Pirro spent the night broadcasting from the rally while simultaneously hyping the crowd ahead of Trump’s arrival. Hannity said on his show that he had been “throwing footballs, signing hats and taking pictures” with members of the audience.
And after Hannity spoke with Trump backstage, Bill Shine, the former Fox News president turned White House communications director, offered him a high-five, according to the White House pool report.
While Fox News had no immediate comment on Hannity campaigning with Trump at Monday night’s rally, the network had previously spoken out when Hannity appeared in a 2016 Trump ad.
At that time, a Fox News spokesperson said that the network “had no knowledge” that Hannity had participated in the advertisement, adding that he would “not be doing anything along these lines for the remainder of the election.”
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Everything You Need to Know About the US Midterm Elections
With control of the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate on the line, Americans are heading to the polls Tuesday in a midterm election that many view as a referendum on President Donald Trump’s first two years in office and that could impact his ability to enact his policies during the second half of his four-year term. Thirty-six of 50 states will also hold elections for governor.
More than 30 million people have taken advantage of early voting or absentee ballots in their states before Election Day, eclipsing the early turnout in 2014 and pointing toward a possible record total turnout for a non-presidential election year.
The GOP has held majorities in the House since 2011 and the Senate since 2015, and has had unified control of both elective branches of the federal government since January 2017. Democrats had unified control in 2009 and 2010, the first two years of the Obama presidency.
Here are some vital facts to keep in mind regarding the election.
What’s at stake
The 100-member Senate has 51 Republicans and 49 Democrats (including two independents). There are 35 seats up for election this year. The Democrats would have to score a net gain of two seats to claim control, although analysts are predicting the Republicans are more likely to hang onto their majority or even add to it.
In the 435-member House, Republicans currently hold 235 members, compared to 193 Democrats. There are seven vacancies that have not been filled by special elections ahead of the midterms. To win a House majority, Democrats would need a net gain of 23 seats.
Of the 36 governorships that will be on the line, 26 are currently held by Republicans and nine controlled by Democrats.
The elections could have important consequences for the U.S. at home and abroad, depending on whether voters choose to stay with the status quo or upend the Republicans on Capitol Hill and enable the Democrats to seize control and challenge many of Trump’s policies. The races for governor are also very important because governors have considerable influence over the redistricting of their states.
Historically, the party in control of the White House suffers substantial losses in the House and Senate in the midterm election, particularly if the president faces low approval ratings. Trump’s approval rating averages little more than 40 percent.
* The average losses for a president’s party since World War II: 26 House seats and three to four Senate seats.
* The average House losses when a president’s approval rating is above 50 percent: 14 seats.
* The average House losses when a president’s approval rating is below 50 percent, since 1970: 33 seats.
* Worst midterm results since World War II: Democrats lost 63 House seats under President Barack Obama in 2010 and 52 House seats under President Bill Clinton in 1994. Republicans lost 30 House seats under President George W. Bush in 2006, and 48 House seats under President Gerald Ford in 1974.
During presidential election years, turnout averages between 50 percent and 60 percent of eligible voters. That figure drops to about 40 percent during congressional midterm elections.
* 2014 midterm voter turnout: 36.4 percent, lowest figure since 1942.
* 2016 presidential voter turnout: 58.1 percent.
* 2018 primary turnout: Roughly 20 percent of registered voters — or about 37 million — turned out for primary elections, according to Pew Research Center. That represented a 56 percent increase over the 23.7 million who took part in the 2014 House primaries. Pew said the turnout that year was 13.7 percent of registered voters. Turnout rose more for Democrats than Republicans.
Why this election is unique
The 2018 midterm election potentially will mark a high point in civic engagement and candidate diversity, according to analysts and polling data.
Voter enthusiasm is reaching its highest level in 20 years, according to Pew. Campaign events have been pulling huge crowds, drawn by appearances from Trump and Obama.
Voter registration has surged as well, and the number of Hispanic eligible voters totals 29.1 million, the highest on record and constituting 12.8 percent of all eligible voters.
Female participation in the political arena has also broken barriers. A record 256 women won House and Senate primaries this year — 197 Democrats and 59 Republicans. This election has the potential of electing the most women ever to the two chambers.
REPUBLISHED WITH PERMISSION FROM VOA
Voting officials under scrutiny amid heavy election turnout
ATLANTA (AP) — Federal and state officials have been working for nearly two years to shore up the nation’s election infrastructure from cyberattacks by Russians or others seeking to disrupt the voting process.
It turns out that many of the problems are closer to home.
Early voting leading up to Tuesday’s midterm election revealed a wide variety of concerns with voting and registration systems around the country — from machines that changed voter selections to registration forms tossed out because of clerical errors.
Election officials and voting rights groups fear that voter confidence in the results could be undermined if such problems become even more widespread on Election Day, as millions of Americans head to the polls to decide pivotal races for Congress and governor.
Already there is concern that last-minute court rulings on voter ID requirements, the handling of absentee ballots and other issues in a handful of states will sow confusion among voters and poll workers.
“We expect poll workers will be overwhelmed, just as voters are overwhelmed, and there will be lots of provisional ballots,” said Sara Henderson, head of Common Cause in Georgia, where voting-rights groups have been raising numerous concerns about election security and voter access.
The problems come amid a surge of interest, with registrations and early-voting turnout running well ahead of what is typically seen during a midterm election.
The 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.
The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, FBI and other federal agencies have opened a command center to help state and local election offices with any major problems that arise.
“We want them to be as informed as possible,” said Matt Masterson, senior cybersecurity adviser with the Department of Homeland Security.
There have been no signs so far that Russia or any other foreign actor has tried to launch cyberattacks against voting systems in any state, according to federal authorities.
But early voting and voter registration has been problematic in a number of states. Problems include faulty machines in Texas and North Carolina, inaccurate mailers in Missouri and Montana, and voter registration problems in Georgia and Tennessee.
In other states, including Kansas, Election Day polling places have been closed or consolidated, leading to worries that voters will be disenfranchised if they can’t find a way to get there and cast a ballot.
Questions about election integrity erupted in recent days in Georgia, where the governor’s race is among the most closely watched elections in the country.
Over the weekend, reports of security vulnerabilities within the state’s online voter registration portal prompted a flurry of accusations from the Secretary of State’s office, which is overseen by Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp. His office claimed without providing evidence that Democrats had tried to hack into the system. Democrats dismissed that as an effort to distract voters from a problem in a system Kemp oversees.
DHS officials have boasted that the 2018 midterms will be the most secure election in U.S. history, pointing to federal intrusion-detection sensors that will protect “90 percent of election infrastructure,” as DHS Undersecretary Christopher Krebs tweeted in mid-October. Those sensors sniff for malicious traffic, and are installed on election systems in 45 states.
But similar sensors used at the federal level have performed quite badly. According to a Sept. 14 letter from the Office of Management and Budget, those sensors had a 99 percent failure rate from April 2017 onward, when they detected only 379 out of almost 40,000 “incidents” across federal civilian networks.
Nationally, some 6,500 poll watchers are being deployed by a coalition of civil rights and voting advocacy groups to assist people who encounter problems at the polls. That is more than double the number sent to polling places in 2016, while the number of federal election monitors has declined.
Long reported from Washington.
For AP’s complete coverage of the U.S. midterm elections: http://apne.ws/APPolitics
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