Voters head to the polls for major elections in Kentucky and Virginia

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Kentucky has a high-profile governor race, while every state legislator in Virginia is on the ballot on Tuesday.

Political observers are keeping a close eye on voters in Virginia and Kentucky as they head to the polls on Tuesday, Nov. 5.

Key elections in each state may set the tone for 2020.

In August, the New York Times called Virginia's elections as "an early test case, both as a measure of Democratic momentum against Republican control and for what they may reveal about voters' attitudes on policy issues and campaign messages."

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Beyond those two states, voters in Mississippi and New Jersey will also head to the polls on Tuesday.

Voters in Louisiana will weigh in on Saturday, Nov. 16.

Here's what you should know about the elections in each state.

Virginia

Voters will elect all 100 House of Delegates members as well as all 40 state senators on Tuesday. At the moment, Republicans hold a slim majority in each chamber, and used their majority to quash legislative initiatives on issues such as gun safety, LGBTQ equality, and raising the minimum wage.

After the spring mass shooting in Virginia Beach, gun safety became a major issue in many races, with the NRA spending more than $200,000 to back gun-friendly politicians. Several Republicans are running Trump-like assembly bids with racist campaign materials and some have launched anti-LGBTQ attacks on Democratic rivals.

In addition to controlling what legislation becomes law, whichever party controls the state's general assembly will play a major role in drawing new legislative districts following the 2020 Census.

Polls in Virginia are open from 6 a.m. until 7 p.m. Both the Virginia Democratic Party and Republican Party have a voter protection hotline for any questions.

Virginia Democratic Party: 844-4VA-VOTE (844-482-8683)
Virginia Republican Party: 804-292-2014

Kentucky

Republican Gov. Matt Bevin is seeking reelection after a tumultuous first term, which made him one of the most unpopular governors in the country. Andy Beshear, the Democratic secretary of state, is running to unseat Bevin.

Bevin made headlines in 2018 by lashing out at teachers who were on strike demanding better working conditions, accusing the teachers of putting children at risk for sexual assault. Both a Republican state senator and a Republican primary candidate have publicly endorsed Beshear in Tuesday's election.

Donald Trump is headed to Kentucky on Monday night to rally Bevin's supporters.

Polls in Kentucky are open from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m. Voters with questions can call either the Kentucky Board of Elections or use a voter protection hotline set up by the Kentucky Democratic Party (the Kentucky GOP does not have a similar hotline).

Kentucky Board of Elections: 502-573-7100
Kentucky Democratic Party Voter Hotline: 833-GO-VOTE-KY (833-468-6835)

Other Elections

In Mississippi, Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Democrat Jim Hood, the state's attorney general, will face off on Tuesday. Hood is the only Democrat to hold statewide office in Mississippi, a deeply Republican state that backed Trump by 18 points in 2016. Despite the state's Republican lean, however, polls have shown a tight race between Reeves and Hood. State legislators in the state House and state Senate will also be on the ballot.

Polls in Mississippi open at 7 a.m. and remain open until 7 p.m.

New Jersey residents will head to the polls and elect members of the state assembly on Tuesday. New Jersey has been a reliably Democratic state for years, and Democrats currently hold a 54-26 majority, which they will likely retain.

New Jersey polls are open from 6 a.m. until 8 p.m.

First-term Democratic Gov. John Bel Edwards is facing a close reelection race in Louisiana, a state that supported Trump by a 20-point margin in 2016. Republican Eddie Rispone, a contractor, earned enough votes in the Oct. 12 primary to take on Edwards.

The election will take place on Saturday, Nov. 16, and the polls will be open that day from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Voters across the country can find their registration status and polling location at www.IWillVote.com.

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.