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CNN Live Event/Special

Voters Head To Polls In High-Stakes Midterm Elections; New Yorkers Hit Polls Amid Unexpectedly Competitive Gov's Race; Election Officials Battle Misinformation Circulating Online. Aired 3-3:30p ET

Aired November 08, 2022 - 15:00   ET




ERIN BURNETT, CNN HOST: Voters are now heading to the polls from coast to coast, Hawaii too, in what is a high stakes and high tension Midterm Election. Good afternoon. I'm Erin Burnett.

WOLF BLITZER, CNN HOST: And I'm Wolf Blitzer.

This is CNN's continuing coverage of Election Day in America. Take a look at this live pictures coming in of a polling center in Tempe, Arizona. All day voters have been pouring into polling places across the country, which shows just how consequential today's vote here in the United States is.

BURNETT: And Wolf, in just under three hours, the polls will close in parts of Indiana and Kentucky, which could give us the first indications of how things will go tonight. Obviously, control of the House is at stake and the Senate as well.

Republicans are predicting that tonight's vote will deliver them big gains, but in order to take control, they need to pull off wins in several crucial states, so let's talk about them. Arizona, certainly one of them. We are now seeing lines of voters wrap around some buildings, so the turnout in Arizona here on Election Day, tons of lines that we are seeing there.

We've got a team of reporters across the country, including in Arizona, and the other closely watched for Senate race in Pennsylvania. I want to start with Sara Sidner, because she's in Tempe at ASU.

And Sara, some quiet places across the country. We hear it's been sort of quiet in parts of Georgia, but where you are right now, a lot of lines.

SARA SIDNER, CNN SENIOR NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: A lot of lines, but they aren't taking that long. There have been some people accusing Maricopa County of having really long two-hour lines. No, there's about a hundred people in line. It takes them about 15 to 20 minutes to get through and vote.

I will tell you, though, that this state and this county in particular, about 85 percent of the vote happens early. And so these are the folks that have decided to vote on this day, but many of the votes are being counted already. Because people like to early vote in this state, no matter how you slice it, especially in this county, which is the most populous county in the state.

I do want to tell you that these - a lot of these folks are students, some of them are first time voters that we have spoken to. And we - we've talked to them about some of the issues that they're concerned with as young Americans, take a listen.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Roe versus Wade is a huge thing that brought me out and then also education, just kind of everything. I feel like there's not anything that's not going to affect me and so those issues did really, really pushed me.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: I would say inflation was the number one thing with the prices going up, especially as a student and the burden that students have to carry with tuition and living expenses. That's the main driving factor that brought me here.


SIDNER: So you hear a couple of the issues. One of the issues that every single person that we talked to was concerned about here was polarization. They really did not like that there is such extreme polarization when it comes to the politicians that they want in leadership roles.


I will say this, that this line has someone who was coming out and counting. One of the people that is here, he comes out and counts every time to see how many people are in line and kind of tell them how long it might take. So there's a lot of information being given to people. And for the most part, people are happy here because people are bringing pizza.

If you look over, there are pizza boxes that are set up and so if people get hungry, because they've been in line for more than 15 minutes, they have a little snack, and for the most part, a lot of great energy here. Back to you, Erin.

BURNETT: I like that. I like - if you're a student and you've been in line 15 minutes, you probably do get hungry. All right. Thanks so much, Sara Sidner at ASU.

And now let's go to Pennsylvania. Obviously, both Democrats and Republicans there have spent an incredible amount of money on the race between the Republican Senate candidate Mehmet Oz and the Democrat John Fetterman. That is where our Brian Todd is standing by.

And I know, Brian, you've been talking to voters all day. Sara is showing us those lines in Arizona. What's your sense of turnout where you are?

BRIAN TODD, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Well, Erin, for years, the pattern has been all across the country that Midterm Elections just don't draw as many voters as presidential cycles. But I can tell you here in Allegheny County and especially here in this voting location where we've had a steady stream of people going in and out all day long, it could be competitive, at least here, in this location at Richland Stadium here in just north of Pittsburgh.

They have three precincts voting in one place and officials told us that so far, about 2,000 people have come through here. A little less than 4,000 came through in 2020 for the presidential cycle. It could be competitive with those numbers. They've got several hours to go and an official here told me that they expect their big push of voters to come after five o'clock Eastern time, a little over two hours from now.

And you talk about the issues that are driving voters and I heard Sarah talk about the economy driving voters in Arizona, same thing here in Pennsylvania. I have Jackie Hughes (ph), she's a 12-year resident of Allegheny County. Jackie, you mentioned the economy, specifically what about the economy drove you here today to vote?

JACKIE HUGHES: Just the increase in prices of every day. I have an 81- year-old mom and kids now that are out on their own and just the cost of groceries, just the cost of everything is going up and it shouldn't have to be that that way. I mean, we know what is inflation has done and just the runaway spending, I think, is crazy with our government where our money's going and such.

TODD: A key follow up would be, do you do have confidence in the candidates who you voted for to do something about it?

HUGHE: I do. I do. I think this time, we do have a clear demarcation of people between the right and the left, I really do. I believe this time people do understand now what's at stake as far as the spending, you're either in that camp where you feel like we should spend a lot of money, tax and spend, or pull back and really try to curb this inflation. So yes, thanks.

TODD: All right. Jackie, thank you very much for talking to us, great to meet you. So Wolf, you can tell it's a very issues-driven campaign here in Allegheny County. Mail-in absentee ballots are going to be key to counting that and we'll get some more information later on that. But right now, some 156,000 absentee and mail-in votes have been filed in Allegheny County. We know that mailing absentee votes throughout Pennsylvania make a huge difference, Wolf.

BLITZER: They certainly do. All right. Brian Todd, thank you very much.

Let's bring back John King. He's over at the magic wall with me right now. And I see you got Pennsylvania, up there on the screen.

JOHN KING, CNN CHIEF NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Look, it's one of the swing states in American politics. It's also one of the most fascinating and complicated states in American politics. Brian Todd out here in Allegheny County, that is Pittsburgh, right? John Fetterman's hometown of Braddock is not terribly far from there.

Let's go back to the 2020 presidential election and use that as your barometer. The Democrats do very well in Allegheny County, 20 points there for Joe Biden. That's what John Fetterman needs tonight. He's to run it up in the Democratic areas in the West. You just see that lonely blue county there and he has to run it up here in the east.

The Oz campaign to me, Wolf, is fascinating, because when Donald Trump came to Pennsylvania a few days ago, that was here in Latrobe, which is in Westmoreland County. And look, Donald Trump won the county by almost 30 points. This is Trump country. Can Mehmet Oz convince the Trump base that he's one of them, right? That he's like Donald Trump, he's like one of them, that's why Trump endorsed him. Oz needs high turnout in places like this.

But if you watch the Oz event last night, where was Oz last night? He was here, come to Allentown, drop south. You see this blue area right here in Montgomery County? Oz was in Pennsburg, which is right about here, right? So you're just south of Allegheny County, just to the west of Bucks County.

And in this county right here of Montgomery County, look how well Joe Biden did here. Joe Biden won by 26 points here, right? So Joe Biden lost in 28 - by 28 points out of Westmoreland County, but he wins here. This is the area we'll watch most closely tonight. And then let's go back, Oz and John Fetterman are running for the seat of Pat Toomey who decided not to run for re-election.

This is 2016, the last time Toomey was elected. What do you notice? Much closer than Donald Trump was here in Montgomery County and Pat Toomey actually won Bucks County. The margins matter. The suburbs are why Joe Biden is President. Joe Biden - Donald Trump just barely won them in 2016. They turn turned against them in 2018 midterms that's why Nancy Pelosi is speaker. They turned against them again. They repudiated Trump in 2020.


Can Mehmet Oz run like Pat Toomey? Right? You don't have to beat John Fetterman here in Montgomery County, but you need to be closer like that. Look at the margin in the presidential race even in 2020 there, right, you see the big drop there. Hillary Clinton swamped Donald Trump in Montgomery County. Can Mehmet Oz run more like a Pat Toomey and can he turn neighboring Bucks County?

If Bucks County is red at the end of the night tonight, Mehmet Oz has a chance to be the next United States senator. If you're John Fetterman, you need this map tonight to look like it did in 2016, more importantly when Joe Biden won it in 2020 and that's the suburbs.

BLITZER: It's amazing what's going on. What are some of the other early signs you're going to be looking for?

KING: So let's come out, let's get out of 2020 and come back to where we are today. In the Senate races, you have New Hampshire. Let's come here for you to look at our competitive Senate races.

In the Senate races, early indications will come in the east, because you can see number one, can Democrats surprise us? Can Cheri Beasley surprise us in North Carolina? Can Tim Ryan surprise us in Ohio? Three Republican states: North Carolina, Ohio and Wisconsin. Democrats have long shot upset plans. That would turn things on their head tonight if that could happen.

But Wolf, just come right down here. Number one, you see the New Hampshire Senate race, the Pennsylvania Senate race, that North Carolina Senate race I talked about and then you talked about the House races and you come here that you look at where there are competitive seats, 82 competitive seats across the country but a lot of them right here in the east.

So we won't know for days, maybe more, the final math could be run off in December in Georgia for that Senate seat. We won't know for days or weeks the final math in the House as well because it takes a long time to count. Out west, you have rank choice voting in Alaska, you have rank choice voting in Maine that takes time to count.

But look at all the districts, the competitive districts here in the east, east of the Mississippi. We're going to get some clues early on as to whether Democrats are resisting or whether Republicans are flipping those blue districts.

BLITZER: We're going to rely on you to share those clues with all of our viewers. John, thank you very, very much.

Up next, New York where the Democratic governor is facing a very serious and perhaps unexpected challenge. We'll be right back.



BURNETT: We are counting down just a few more hours until the first poll start to close. Here in New York, a few expected a Democratic governor in a solidly blue state would face any trouble today, right, 30 points, you think that should be? Well, no. National issues like crime have been weighing heavily on the incumbent Gov. Kathy Hochul. Here's what Hochul and her Republican challenger Lee Zeldin said just today.


LEE ZELDIN, (R) Gubernatorial Candidate in New York: It's really only been in the last few days that all of a sudden she says it - now she has a plan to fight crime, but ...

GOV. KATHY HOCHUL (D) NEW YORK: He didn't bother to show up in Congress to vote the fund the police, so the record is clear. The record is clear. We'll work with you on it. He talks about it.

BURNETT: All right. We'll see what happens in the New York race and how close or not close it is, who wins. Joining us now, again, my panel. Bakari, here's the thing about New York and we'll see what it is. But this is a race nobody would ever even pay attention to. Usually, kind of most people would have no idea who the Republican challenger was, right? I mean, it would be a 30-point race. It certainly doesn't look like it's going to be anything like that. How did this sort of, I guess, sneak up on Democrats? I mean, it's hardly as if crime in New York is a sneak up issue.

BAKARI SELLERS, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, there are two things. The first thing is I do think this race is going to be a wider spread than people imagined it would be a week ago or two weeks ago.


SELLERS: And the reason being is because Republicans were like, holy hell, we can win. And then they brought every Democrat imaginable out. They brought everybody here. You had Bill Clinton come out. You had the president here. You had all of these other people.

In Manhattan, Democrats woke up and said, oh, we need to actually go cast a ballot. But it highlights a larger issue, which is driving a lot of people crazy, which is the way that Democrats tackle messaging on particular issues. Take crime, for example. You cannot tell New Yorkers or people in Arkansas or people in Georgia or Philadelphia, wherever it may be, that the statistics about crime are wrong, that what you're feeling is not accurate.

Crime is an issue. It's a top issue. It's a top of mind issue and we know the crime rates in Arkansas, and Mississippi and Georgia, a Republican-led states are higher than the blue states. We know that. But that - those stats don't matter. What we have to do is come up with holistic solutions, early childhood education, after school programs, midnight basketball, giving kids something else to do, strengthening gun laws.

We have to have these holistic conversations instead of saying, oh, what you feel as a voter just ain't right. I don't believe it. Here's a statistic. Democrats for too long live in an ivory tower and don't meet voters where they are and that is why this race is close.

BURNETT: Yes. I mean - and how close do you think it'll be?

ANA NAVARRO, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Well, as I was listening to Bakari, I was thinking and the other thing Democrats have to do is rid themselves with the albatross around their neck that has become to defund the police lingo that's going on. And it's unfortunate, because it comes from probably a very narrow swath of the Democratic Party, and it's taken hold and every Republican will use it against the Democrats they're running against.

And if it's - doesn't get answered, again, the same with the socialism and communism thing, if it doesn't get answered, it hangs there and it becomes something that people start believing and just - it's - they're carrying it on their shoulders.

SELLERS: That's a good point, because like - I don't know too many people who want to defund the police, but I know a lot of people who want better police, right? And I think you can have a conversation about how to have better police and how to have practical and community policing, but also how do we make sure that we keep our community safe?

NAVARRO: But, I mean, the lessons, the moral of the story is you don't you take a - an issue that's so complicated and turn it into three words.

SELLERS: Yes, especially words you got to--

NAVARRO: That's (inaudible) ...

SELLERS: And Lieutenant Governor will tell you, anytime you're explaining you're losing. So anytime I'm like defund the police doesn't mean defund the police. It means invest in this program, invest in that program. And by the time I tell you what it means, I've already lost the battle.

BURNETT: Yeah, it's true. So we're at right now 3:19 Eastern, so we're in the final two - two and a half hours go to till first polls close. Ashley, what are you - when those first, not just a couple areas, right, Kentucky and then you can have a whole bunch more at seven o'clock.


But what are you most focused on, the early part of tonight, these next couple hours?

ASHLEY ALLISON, CNN POLITICAL COMMENTATOR: Honestly, I'm not making any predictions from what comes in the first couple of hours and I urge voters to be patient. We are going to see places like Philly take until Thursday, maybe even Friday and that's okay, because that means every vote is being counted.

In Arizona and Wisconsin, we have record turnout. So really, because of the way people are voting now with Republicans and Democrats early voting, because of who's showing up in-person, I don't think the first few hours are going to be an indication of anything. We just have to be patient and let the process proceed.

NAVARRO: And in fact, let's remember what the first few hours were like ...

BURNETT: In 2020, yes.

NAVARRO: And how some of those results flipped 180 degrees ...


NAVARRO: And so people have to know that that oftentimes the results that come from the absentees and the mail ballots that are first counted are very different from when the - in - the on the day ballots start getting counted.

BURNETT: We heard though, lieutenant governor, I think it was a voter in Pennsylvania, but expressing what a lot of people feel is can we please just get the count sooner, maybe it was in Georgia. I know in Georgia you've changed some of the rules and you've talked about this and Gabe Sterling who oversees the elections there was talking about it that you're going to get a feel for those absentee ballots early that he thinks you can get a sense between 7:15 and 7:45 tonight where George is going, which is probably to run off.

But what - is enough being done to get answers sooner. I mean, I understand it, we've got to encourage patients, we've got to tell people every vote should be counted. These are all true things. But there also does need to be a process it's moving towards something that isn't every time going to be a nasty ugly confusing multi week process.

LT. GOV. GEOFF DUNCAN, (R) GEORGIA: Yes. The edits that we made in Georgia for our election law was not about addressing election fraud, it was about addressing election confidence and I think that's what we really put into place. You heard Gabe Sterling earlier talk about some of the things that we did.

I think one of things I'm looking for at the tail end of this day is when did the whispers start happening around some sort of election integrity issues, right? Whether it'd be from the left or from the right.



DUNCAN: And do those whispers turn into people screaming fire in a theater because there's a birthday candle burning in the bathroom?

ALLISON: But here's what I will say is just we can get results faster if people who are not putting a narrative around fraud would stop. In Arizona, there are literally people trying to do hand counts when we know they're inaccurate and they will take longer to count and just ...

NAVARRO: (Inaudible) and I'm from Florida, I'm used to it taking really ...

BURNETT: The Lieutenant Governor can tell you that, then you guys had to hand count, machine count and hand count, machine counting that.

DUNCAN: We're pretty good at counting in Georgia.

BURNETT: Outcome never change though, which is - all right, next, voter misinformation, what you do need to watch out for at the polls.



BURNETT: All right. There are less than three hours before the first polls close, just about two and a half. In less than two hours, we're going to get our first look at how people voted and why. We're going to get the first exit polls, so what are the issues, why were they there, what do they care about. This comes as officials have been fighting misinformation and conspiracy theories all day.

Donie O'Sullivan has been following this story joins us now.

So Donie, look, you hope these things don't break out into the mainstream and that they can nip this in the bud, get the answers people need to transparency. But what can you tell us about one of these cases of misinformation you've been focused on?

DONIE O'SULLIVAN, CNN REPORTER: Yes. So very similar to 2020 election where we're seeing videos of - issues are going to arise at the polls. There's 10s of 1000s of cities, townships, counties, polling locations across the country. We have video, as you can see there, from this morning in Maricopa County in Arizona, which, of course, was the kind of ground zero of election conspiracy theories in 2020.

A poll worker there explaining that there's an issue with a tabulation machine. So after people go vote, they can put their vote into the tabulation machine. It wasn't reading some ballots this morning, but you were able to put your vote into a secure box next to the machine and would be brought to be counted tonight.

An issue that was all resolved, but now across social media, that video of that has been viewed more than 3 million times, but it's being shared in the context as though this is evidence that fraud is happening in Maricopa County, in Arizona. That is simply not the case. Listen to these election officials.


BILL GATES, MARICOPA COUNTY BOARD OF SUPERVISORS CHAIRMAN: No one is being disenfranchised, that is the important thing. And none of this indicates any fraud or anything of that sort. This is a technical issue.


O'SULLIVAN: And look, just as Bill Gates from Maricopa County Board of Supervisors was saying there, these issues are going to happen. They're doing their best to explain it. But what we are just seeing as everything gets classified as fraud.

BURNETT: Right. Immediately, right. And I guess you're talking about - when you take your ballot and basically you feed it into that thing, it's supposed to read it, which we had here in New York, obviously, they have in Maricopa County. But I think the key point you're saying what they said take it, put it in the box next to it, we will fix this issue. So what else are officials saying about these sorts of reports?

O'SULLIVAN: Yes. Well, so much of this, of course, is focused on Maricopa County. We've even seen the former president post about it on his social media platform today. But I just want to show you this one tweet from Maricopa County itself. It's in address to a Republican activists who saying there's all these weights and suggesting that the Democrats are responsible trying to do fraud.


Maricopa County saying, "No part of this tweet below is accurate.