Former Borough President of Brooklyn Eric Adams was elected New York City's next mayor. File Photo by Sarah Silbiger/UPI | License Photo
Nov. 2 (UPI) -- Tuesday is Election Day across the United States, and there are a number of key races and ballot initiatives to watch, including gubernatorial contests in Virginia and New Jersey and a mayoral race in New York City.
The leadership races and ballot measures, some experts say, may serve as a referendum on President Joe Biden's first year in office.
The races in Virginia and New Jersey, historically, have often served as proving grounds for opposition to the party that holds the presidency.
Democrat Shontel Brown was the first called winner on the night as NBC News and CNN projected she would defeat Republican Laverne Gore to fill the seat in the House left open by Marcia Fudge, who became President Joe Biden's secretary of housing and urban development.
And Democrat Eric Adams was projected within an hour of polls closing to be the next New York City mayor by NBC News and CNN, besting Republican Curtis Sliwa by a large margin for the seat left open by outgoing Mayor Bill de Blasio.
In Boston, Michelle Wu beat Boston City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George to become the city's first Asian American mayor.
, Democratic candidate for governor of Virginia, arrives to speak at a rally in Arlington, Va., on October 26. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI
This one is probably the most high-profile race on this Election Day, with Democrat Terry McAuliffe and Republican Glenn Youngkin locked in a tight race to become Virginia's next governor. The incumbent, Democrat Ralph Northam, is not eligible for another term.
As of 11 p.m., Youngkin was leading with 51% of the vote to McAuliffe's 48% with about 90% of precincts reporting, according to state date.
In-person early voting in the state began in September and ran through last weekend, with more than 1 million early and mail-in ballots cast as of Saturday, according to data firm TargetSmart.
McAuliffe, who previously served one term as Virginia's governor, has hinged his campaign on protecting Democratic control of the state to ensure recent party advances such as abortion access and outlawing the death penalty are not undone.
Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris and former President Barack Obama have visited the state to stump for McAuliffe, and have painted Youngkin as a wannabe Donald Trump -- who, by the way, lost to Biden by a double-digit margin in Virginia the 2020 presidential election.
Republican gubernatorial candidate Glenn Youngkin greets supporters at a rally in Manassas, Va., on October 18. Photo by Tasos Katopodis/UPI
Youngkin has largely focused his campaign on calls to ban the implementation of critical race theory, an academic concept discussing systemic racism that some view as racially divisive, which is not part of the state's K-12 curriculum. He has also voiced opposition to COVID-19 vaccine mandates.
Trump has endorsed Youngkin, who has embraced the former president's false claim that Biden's election win was the result of voter fraud.
Virginia passed a new law this year that requires election officials to begin counting mail ballots early, after the delay in counting them last November that later flipped numbers in the state in favor of Biden.
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy greets healthcare workers at a coronavirus vaccination site in Newark, N.J., on October 8. Pool Photo by Justin Lane/UPI
New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, a Democrat, is facing a challenge from Republican businessman Jack Ciattarelli.
Murphy has overseen the state's COVID-19 response, including mandating that key healthcare workers get vaccinated against the virus. Ciattarelli has expressed support for masking and vaccination, but opposed mandates in favor of allowing residents to make their own choices.
Ciattarelli has also called for a loosening of the state's gun laws to make it easier to obtain a concealed-carry permit and expedite applications for permits for people who face "imminent danger," including domestic violence victims.
Murphy has also increased limits for when officers are permitted to use force and required officers to file reports when they unholster their gun while on duty. Ciattarelli has said such restrictions make it too difficult for police to do their jobs.
There have been nearly 570,000 early and absentee votes cast in the statewide election so far.
New York City will choose its next mayor on Tuesday, after seven years of leadership by Bill de Blasio. File Photo by John Angelillo/UPI
New York City
Mayor Bill de Blasio will soon be on his way out, and New York City on Tuesday chose his replacement -- Democrat Eric Adams, who was declared the winner within an hour of polls closing.
According to the Board of Elections in the City of New York, Adams as of 10 p.m. had more than 66% of the vote share to Republican Curtis Sliwa's near 28% with nearly 70% of scanners reporting.
"It's official -- our five-borough, knock-every-door, reach-every-voter campaign was successful: We have won the race for Mayor of New York City!" Adams tweeted. "This is my dream come true, and I couldn't be more proud to represent the City that we all love as your Mayor-elect."
De Blasio, who is also a Democrat, offered his congratulations to Adams, whom he called a "my friend."
"A graduate of our public schools. A decorated NYPD veteran. A brave voice for justice in our streets. A bold public servant with Brooklyn spirit and style. [Adams] embodies the greatness of our city," he said in a statement after the race was called. "He will be an outstanding mayor."
Sliwa emerged earlier this year to take on Adams as the Republican challenger from the city's first ranked-choice primary.
In their first debate earlier this month, Adams, a former New York Police Department captain, said he would uphold de Blasio's vaccine mandate for city employees and order that children in New York City schools be vaccinated.
Sliwa, a conservative talk show host and founder of the Guardian Angels, has opposed de Blasio's vaccine requirement for city workers and argues that it's contributing to the city's dwindling police force, a claim that's largely untrue.
He also said he would not require vaccinations for schoolchildren.
Sliwa was treated at a hospital on Saturday after being struck by a taxi cab, but has since been released to recover at home.
New York voters will also decide a handful of ballot measures over how voting is conducted in the state.
Ballot Proposal 1 would require the state assembly and senate district lines to be based on total population based on all residents, including non-citizens, and would cap the number of state senators at its current total of 63.
Ballot Proposal 3 would remove a requirement that residents register to vote at least 10 days before an election and allow for practices such as same-day registration.
Ballot Proposal 4 would ask whether the state should eliminate a requirement that absentee voters must provide a reason for why they are unable to physically appear at a polling place to receive a ballot.
A protester is seen in front of the Hennepin County Government Center in Minneapolis on April 19 during the trial of former officer Derek Chauvin
, who killed George Floyd
during an arrest in May 2020. File Photo by Jemal Countess/UPI
A ballot measure asked voters in Minneapolis whether the city should change its charter to replace its police department -- which was involved in the death of George Floyd last year -- with a "department of public safety."
And the voters were resolute in their rejection of it.
With nearly all precincts reporting, more than 56% of voters were against the so-called defunding the police measure to nearly 44% in favor, the local Start Tribune reported.
If it were approved, the change would have replace the Minneapolis police chief with a commissioner appointed by the mayor.
Tuesday's election is the first in the city since Floyd's death in May 2020 rocked the Minneapolis police force and led to a national movement against police brutality. There have been efforts in the city to "defund the police" and replace it with an agency more focused on community-based protection. If voters had answer "yes" on Question 2 on Tuesday, it would be a step in that direction.
If the change had passed, the new public safety department could employ police officers, but it would not be required to do so.
Yes 4 Minnesota, the group that proposed the measure, said before the results that came in that no matter what they would be change has been accomplished.
"Regardless of what happens in the next few hours, one thing is clear -- Minneapolis has changed the conversation around policing and public safety, unequivocally stating that the two are not the same and that we can, and must, do better," it said in a statement.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott exempted religious worship from his stay-at-home order related to the COVID-19 pandemic, deeming it an essential service. File Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI
Voters in Texas weighed in on a number of ballot measures Tuesday, mainly in response to restrictions put in place amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
With 98% of counties reporting, Texans were in favor of all eight constitutional amendments, according to unofficial state results.
However, that could change with only 53% of polling locations reporting as of 10 p.m.
Proposition 3 asked Texans whether a state or political subdivision should be barred from prohibiting or limiting religious services by religious organizations. The question comes after other states limited in-person church services in efforts to limit non-essential gatherings to curb the spread of COVID-19.
And voters were overwhelming in support with more than 65% in favor late Tuesday compared to nearly 35% against.
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott exempted religious worship from his stay-at-home order, deeming it an essential service.
Proposition 6 would solidify the right for long-term care residents to designate an essential caregiver for in-person visitation, in response to the state restricting in-person visits from family and friends not designated as essential caregivers during the pandemic.
Nearly 88% of voters said they were for the amendment with 12% saying they were against, the unofficial results showed.
Voters in Austin, will also take up a proposition on whether the city should bolster its police force -- with voters voicing strong opposition in the Democratic city.
Proposition A would require the Austin police department to employ at least two police officers for every 1,000 residents, require a minimum of 35% "community engagement time" for front-line officers, double their yearly mandatory training and create an incentive program for officers who are in good standing, mentor cadets or speak multiple languages.
However, nearly 69% of voters rejected the changes to 31% in favor, according to the election results.
In Boston, voters took to the polls to elect a new mayor after Martin Walsh was tapped by the Biden admission to lead the Department of Labor.
History was made Tuesday when voters elected Michelle Wu the city's first Asian American mayor over Boston City Councilor Annissa Essaibi George.
"From every corner of our city, Boston has spoken," she said in her victory speech. "We are ready to meet this moment. We are ready to become a Boston for everyone. We are ready to be a Boston that doesn't push people out but welcomes all who call our city home."
Wu gave her speech shortly after Essaibi George conceded defeat.
"I want to offer a great big congratulations to Michelle Wu. She is the first woman, the first person of color and as an Asian American, the first elected to be mayor of Boston. I know this is no small feat, you know this is no small feat," she told her supporters.
As of 11:30 p.m. with more than 86% of precincts reporting, Wu had 62% of the vote to Essaibi George's 37.5%, according to state data.
The 36-year-old Wu will be replacing supporter and interim mayor, Kim Janey, who earlier Tuesday said she was proud of her "sister in-service."
"Michelle understands the importance of equity and inclusion and will bring residents together to solve our toughest problems!" she tweeted amid the vote.