Polls Now Closed in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware: Philly Region Is Center Stage in Fight for Congress as Local, State Races Also Loom Large

Today's midterm elections seem like they are all about the fight for control of Congress, but hundreds of down-ballot races will determine laws and policies at local and state levels for years to come.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The polls closed at 8 p.m. in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware. Elections results are beginning to come in. See them live here.

Election Day is always about questions of power.

Will Democrats regain control of Congress after eight years?

Are women going to seize greater equity in the political arena?

Do Americans want to send the president a message?

The midterm elections today will answer these broad questions. But today also represents the strength of the individual citizen in our democracy. Each vote cast is a spark of power.

And plenty of sparks fired Tuesday.

Turnout was reportedly heavy throughout the region. In Philadelphia, more than 404,000 people had voted by just after 5 p.m. In the 2014 midterms, 381,503 people voted all day.

In suburban Delaware County, one polling place had more than 300 voters before 11 a.m. Poll workers said lines had often stretched down the sidewalk during the day.

In New Castle County, Delaware, at least 138,000 people had voted by about 5 p.m. — but election officials said they knew that number was low because many polls had been too busy to update turnout reports.

There were some reports of voting issues, including broken machines and people who said they were denied provisional ballots. But nothing out of the ordinary was reported, according to a spokeman from the Philadelphia District Attorney's office.

Every two years, the country gets the opportunity to readjust its leadership. For dismayed liberals, it is easily forgotten that Congress during the majority of the last century has been controlled by Democrats.

Only a couple years ago, the last Republican president before Donald J. Trump’s surprise election, George W. Bush, wondered privately if he would be the last Republican ever to live in the White House.

The exaggerations and overblown rhetoric of national political theater can overshadow an often-quoted tenet of American democracy: “All politics is local.”

It’s a phrase once uttered by former House Speaker Tip O’Neill, the powerful Democrat from Boston. O’Neill presided over a decades-long reign by Democrats in the House of Representatives until a sudden, seismic power change in 1994. That's when a young, ambitious firebrand named Newt Gingrich led a Republican uprising.

What O’Neill meant is that Americans must remember where true power lies in American democracy: at state and local levels.

And down-ballot at today’s polls, voters will find options for town councils, county commissioners and state legislatures.

In Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, and the rest of the 50 states, hundreds of candidates hoping to represent constituents in local and state governments are on the ballot.

Polling places in all three states will be open until 8 p.m.

The winners of these less-known political races will decide for years to come what laws and policies govern issues ranging from bail reform and education spending to abortion rights and congressional district boundaries.

Still, much of the news coverage will focus on the 435 congressional seats and 33 U.S. Senate seats up for grabs, including one each in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware.

In the mix also are governors' races in 36 states, including Pennsylvania, which will determine the woman or man who has direct say over state budgets and redistricting after the 2020 Census.

For a complete rundown of the races, candidates and issues that have been central to the lead-up of Election Day, click here for NBC10’s Decision 2018 page.

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