By Michael Hernandez
WASHINGTON (AA) – Americans across the U.S. are descending on polling stations in droves Tuesday for this year’s midterm elections.
Most voting locations began opening between 6 and 7 a.m. local time on the East Coast (1100 and 1200 GMT), with polling stations in the central and western U.S. set to open around the same times in their time zones. Vermont, however, was the earliest to open its polling stations at 5 a.m. (1000 GMT).
Over 36 million Americans have already cast their ballots in early voting, according to data compiled by the University of Florida's United States Elections Project. That is 17 million more than those who voted early in the 2014 midterms as polling indicates an energized American electorate.
All 435 seats in the House of Representatives are up for grabs in this year’s midterms, as are 35 seats in the 100-member Senate.
Republicans currently control both chambers, but the Democratic Party is seeking to pounce upon discontent among some voters to make inroads in the federal legislature.
At stake is the future of U.S. President Donald Trump's legislative agenda. He is set to round out the final two years of his first, and possibly sole, term in office.
While Democrats currently trail far more in the House, it is that chamber where their efforts are most likely to bear fruit, with projections estimating that they will take a majority there. In the Senate, most of the seats that are up for election are Democratic, making more difficult their task of taking additional seats in the chamber, where Republicans hold a razor thin 51-49 majority.
Should Democrats take either chamber, Trump’s already complicated ability to drive policy would face further obstacles as Democrats oppose him uniformly on all of his major goals, from immigration to efforts to eliminate the U.S.'s universal healthcare law.
Beyond national politics, state and local elections will see voters decide on a host of smaller “down-ballot” races that include 36 state gubernatorial races.