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CNN NEWSROOM

O'Rourke vs Cruz, Voters Decide Contentious Senate Race; State Ballot Measures to Watch, Marijuana, Medicaid, Voter ID; Americans Turn out in Record Numbers in Early Voting; Some Reports of Voting Issues, Technical Glitches. Aired 3:30-4p ET

Aired November 6, 2018 - 15:30   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[15:30:00] BROOKE BALDWIN, CNN HOST: One of the most contentious senate races is unfolding today in Texas. You have the Democrat here, Beto O'Rourke, who is hoping to unseat the Republican incumbent there, Senator Ted Cruz, in a deep red state. Senator Cruz's closing argument is that O'Rourke is dangerous for Texas.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. TED CRUZ (R), TEXAS: We're seeing conservative Democrats, moderate Democrats. There have been millions of conservative moderate Democrats in Texas over the years. Well, those Texas Democrats are looking at the national Democratic Party and it's getting so extreme, it's getting so radical.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: O'Rourke was spotted voting in El Paso today. He said he is ignoring the polls and is confident he will pull this one off.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Are you expecting to win?

REP. BETO O'ROURKE (D), TEXAS SENATE CANDIDATE: Yes.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: What do you base that on?

O'ROURKE: I just don't have a poll, don't have a pollster. Just traveled to every single county in Texas, listened to everybody. Have so many amazing volunteers that we are working with. Knocking on millions of doors, making that human-to-human connection that we are in such desperate need of at this moment of division in the country, bringing people together. I feel it. And so, yes, it's good.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: With me now Todd Gillman, he is the Washington bureau chief for the "Dallas Morning News." And Todd, what an incredible race there in Texas. Right? This is a race obviously with Ted Cruz. Wants to hold on to that senate seat. Probably didn't actually think it would be as close as it has been. Beto O'Rourke getting a lot of Texans out and about and enthused. Talk to me about early numbers in Texas. What are you seeing? TODD GILLMAN, WASHINGTON BUREAU CHIEF, THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS:

They're big but nobody knows what is it means. There is clearly a surge among younger voters, voters under 30, that is almost certainly breaking for Beto O'Rourke. You can see it in the crowds. The Democrat's crowd are generally very big and much younger, certainly more ethnically diverse than Republican's crowds. But there's also a lot of turnout in areas that probably favor Ted Cruz.

This is a race that generates a lot of excitement. You have issues on the minds of voters like President Trump that really cut both ways. The Democrats want to send a message, and the Republicans see the Democrats wanting to send a message and push back against it.

BALDWIN: If O'Rourke loses the senate race tonight, I know he has said he is not interested in a Presidential run. But can you see the Democratic Party just based upon sheer enthusiasm for this young guy in Texas, do you see the Democrats trying to change his mind?

GILLMAN: Well, possibly. There are certainly many people in the Democrat Party in Texas and beyond Texas who have become absolutely worshipful of Beto. But I really have to question the logic of putting somebody up for President who hasn't even carried his own state. The math for Democrats becomes wonderful if Texas becomes Democratic. Because then you have Texas plus New York plus California and it becomes almost insurmountable for Republicans in a White House race. But if Texas is not part of that equation and you put a Texan on the ballot -- now, could he be up for a cabinet in a Democratic administration? Certainly. Would he be a terrific surrogate for Democrats running around the country? Sure. If he wins the senate race, well, now he's a dragon slayer, he took down Ted Cruz and turned Texas blue, if not purple.

BALDWIN: That would be an entirely different conversation. I asked you about O'Rourke, so let me ask you about Ted Cruz. What happens if Ted Cruz loses?

GILLMAN: I don't know. He was making well over a million dollars a year as an appellate lawyer. He is a tremendously talented appellate lawyer. If he loses, I think that his presidential ambitions are over. Because if he's the guy who was -- who lost Texas when Republicans haven't lost a statewide race here since 1994, he already has this kind of divisive, abrasive personality. People love him or they hate him. It was always going to be a bit of an uphill road for him to run for president. It's a little hard to imagine.

[15:35:01] Now again, if he wins reelection, when Trump is no longer running, then the next opportunity it is possible that Cruz would try again for the White House.

BALDWIN: Todd Gillman, thank you very much in Texas. Coming up next, it's not just about the candidates here, folks. It is about marijuana and Medicaid expansion and everything in between. Voters in several states are deciding key issues today. We'll break down the ballot measures to watch next with Mark Preston.

[15:40:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK) BALDWIN: Welcome back to our special live coverage of election day. And control of Congress, that's not the only pressing issue on the minds of voters here. Because for some states, marijuana, criminal justice reform and health care are all on the ballot. So, CNN senior political analyst Mark Preston is here with a couple of examples of these ballot measures starting with your own ID to vote.

MARK PRESTON, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: Yes, voter ID. So, what we saw in North Carolina -- follow me here, this is an interesting one. In Arkansas you need an ID to vote today, but you're voting on whether you need an ID to vote. The reason being is because in Arkansas they have tried to pass laws a couple times. The most recent one was knocked down as unconstitutional by the federal district court. But since then the state Supreme Court said that in fact you will need an ID to vote today. But again, they are voting on whether or not in the future you'll need an ID to vote.

BALDWIN: Put it in the states Constitution.

PRESTON: Exactly. As interesting as this is, now North Carolina as well, the same thing, where you're seeing that as well, where you're going to need -- they want it enshrined within their constitution. But let's go down to Florida.

BALDWIN: This is interesting.

PRESTON: This is really interesting as well. 1.5 million former felons might be able to vote after tomorrow. And if you put that in perspective, 13 million people right now, Brooke, can vote in Florida. You're adding 1.5 million people to the rolls if this is approved, that would be amazing.

BALDWIN: That doesn't include, though --

PRESTON: Rapists, people accused of sexual offenses.

BALDWIN: OK. And then marijuana.

PRESTON: Right. You know, talk about --

BALDWIN: Legalize it.

PRESTON: Legalizing it. You know, they are projecting right now that marijuana will be a $21 billion industry by 2021. That's amazing. It was only $9 billion a few years ago. But if you're looking at marijuana right now Michigan and North Dakota legalizing recreational marijuana. They're both on the ballot right now and will see what happens. But the way things are going there's a good thing it can happen medicinally, too. Look at these two states as well. We're looking at Utah and Missouri. In Missouri they're not voting on one but three different taxing measures on legalizing medical marijuana. And of course, in Utah, looks like it's going to pass. But guess what? We already have opponents and supporters working together no matter what happens on this valid issue to try to get some kind of compromise no matter what happens.

BALDWIN: Sure. And then lastly, I think we have time, Medicaid expansion.

PRESTON: Yes, Medicaid expansion, a very, very big deal, of course. Specifically, among states that were not accepting it, Idaho, Utah, Nebraska. Interestingly enough here, Idaho, the governor, endorsed Medicaid expansion. These states which did not them. Which was offered under the Affordable Care Act, have lost tens of millions of dollars. They're trying to get back in the game.

BALDWIN: It's incredible, some of these ballots, I mean is page after page after page just on ballot measures alone. Mark Preston, thank you very much.

Coming up next, broken voting machines, a shortage of paper ballots and polls that opened late. We are getting our first sense on some of the issue's voters had had to deal with today. And we will have an update for you from the Department of Homeland Security. Be right back.

[15:45:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: On this election day in America, we could see record turnout for midterm voting nationwide. But what if you're among those in the other camp, the maybe voter? If you're wondering after a long day at work is it really worth it to sit through traffic in bad weather only to wait in a long line to vote? If that is you, you have to hear from 79-year-old Marian Haslem. I interviewed her over the summer in Birmingham, Alabama. And as a black woman from the deep south, just imagine the lengths she went to back in the day to try to vote.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: Tell me what these pieces of paper are.

MARIAN HASLAM, VOTING RIGHTS ACTIVIST: This is the test that said that I was eligible to vote for the next six months.

BALDWIN: This is before the voting rights act of 1965. This is dated January 20, 1964.

HASLAM That's right.

BALDWIN: Was that the first time you are allowed to vote?

HASLAM That was the first time. And this is where I paid to vote. I had to pay a tax. This is a poor tax. I had to pay to vote after I passed the test because of the color of my skin. See, voting was not so much of a right for me as a want for me. It was a big deal to be a voter.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: And we had a much longer conversation. If you don't vote, Miss Marian will take offense. So, let's honor her generation with our power today. It's a similar message that we heard from Orpah last week. She shared the story Mr. Otis Moss senior, some 72 years ago, he walked 18 miles one day, just for a chance to vote. (BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

OPRAH WINFREY, MEDIA MOGUL: And he walked six miles to the polling location he was told to go to in Le Grange. And when he got there after walking six miles in his good suit and tie, they said, "Boy, you at the wrong place, you at the wrong place. You need to go to Mountville." So, he walked another six miles to Mountville. And when he got there, they said, "Boy, you at the wrong place, you need to go to the Rosemont school." And I picture him walking from dawn to dusk in his suit, his feet tired, getting to the Rosemont school and they say, "Boy, you too late, the polls are closed."

[15:50:00] REV. OTIS MOSS JR., OPRAH INVOKED HIS FATHER STORY OF VOTER SUPPRESSION: We were eagerly awaiting his return home, and we were hurt, we were pained, we were saddened that he had not had the chance to cast his vote. But it also built within his children and now his grandchildren and great-grandchildren the determination to be a part of the voting rights process in every election.

(END VIDEOTAPE)

BALDWIN: And finally, consider the enduring message of Major Brent Taylor, the Utah mayor and national guardsman who was killed this past week in Afghanistan. In his final message on Facebook, echoed today by his widow.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

JENNIE TAYLOR, WIFE OF FALLEN SOLDIER MAJOR BRENT TAYLOR: Brent himself put it best just days ago when he implored of us all, I hope everyone back home exercises their precious right to vote. And whether the Republicans or the Democrats win, I hope that we all remember that we have far more as Americans that unites us than divides us. May God forever bless America.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

BALDWIN: So, if you have thought of a reason not to vote today, let's honor these Americans. It is our right and our privilege to do so.

We are getting some reports of broken machines, a shortage of ballots. We're getting our first sense of those issues' voters have run into today. We'll have those details for you next.

[15:55:00] (COMMERCIAL BREAK)

BALDWIN: After all the talk of election meddling and voter suppression, we have been keeping a close eye out today for any issues that voters have run into while trying to cast their ballots. The Department of Homeland Security insists there has been nothing out of the ordinary, which is a great thing. But let's go to CNN's Alex Marquardt, who is the one tasked with tracking the glitches. And there have been some in several states across the country. Alex, what have you been seeing?

ALEX MARQUARDT, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: There have been a lot of issues across the country, but there always are going to be a lot of issues. And we really need to emphasize that. What we are seeing so far has not been truly disruptive. It has not been extraordinary. But we have been keeping tabs on a whole range of issues. So, let's take a look at those.

Everything from what has been happening at the polling stations to the machines, all the way to what we really fear the most, and that is hacking into the systems by malicious actors. So, let's go through those kind of one by one.

This is what we're seeing at the polling stations across the country. I can't go state by state, because that would take too long, but we have seen long lines, especially in places like Georgia. Sometimes there simply aren't enough machines for the number of voters who have turned out. Jesse Jackson down in Georgia today called it inhumane, how long the lines were and how few machines there were. In some places, there aren't enough ballots. In some places, the scanning machines are not working.

But as you mentioned, Brooke, the Department of Homeland Security looking at these issues, they are talking to the vendors and the polling stations, the state election officials there, saying these are typical issues. These are not necessarily extraordinary.

Brooke, you and I have talked about misinformation. This is also another one of the fears. On Twitter, on Facebook, people putting out wrong information about how to vote, where you can vote, what times you can vote. So far today we've seen the Secretaries of State in both New Jersey and Rhode Island say that they have seen reports of misinformation. Just a short time ago, DHS saying that they have seen intentional misinformation that was rapidly addressed by the platforms, so those would be the social media platforms.

The states and we in the media, we at CNN, are always cautioning voters to check out the official feeds, the official websites for that official information on where to vote. You have to go to the official resources.

Then, Brooke, you've got something as simple as the weather. A lot of people vote depending on what the weather is. You can see this blue band up and down the east coast. All the way from Florida up to the Northeast. There's a lot of rain today. That's going to affect lines. That's going to affect people deciding whether they actually want to go out and vote.

Now finally, the big fears I mentioned, hacking. So far, there's zero sign of any sort of hacking, any sort of intrusions, any sort of breaches. What DHS is saying is that there seen some scanning. Now that is akin to, as they said, you being on Google street view and a malicious actor taking a look at a house on Google. So, they're testing, they're looking, they're probing. There have been so far no intrusions. They're calling it run of the mill. And everything they've seen they cannot trace back to a single actor like Russia. So, Brooke, a lot of these issues, all across the board, but nothing so far truly disruptive -- Brooke. BALDWIN: Good. Knocking on my desk here. We did just get some video

of the government's command center for monitoring elections. Tell me more about just, Alex, their process. 30 seconds.

MARQUARDT So, there are a number of command centers, a number of operations rooms that DHS has set up. What you're looking at there is one of the rooms in Arlington, Virginia, they're being run by the Department of Homeland Security. You've got a lot of different agencies in there. You have a lot of different companies like Facebook and Twitter. You have the vendors as well. So, this is just DHS showing us that it's all hands-on deck, that everyone is communicating so we can have a safe and secure election -- Brooke.

BALDWIN: As it should be. I know you're tasked with any potential voter irregularities tonight and in the nicest way possible. I hope we don't see you once. Alex Marquardt, thank you very much though for covering all that for us. And of course, stay with CNN for all the latest on election night today in America. I'm Brooke Baldwin, thanks for being with me. "THE LEAD" with Jake Tapper starts right now.