NEW YORK/WASHINGTON/LOS ANGELES, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) -- Voters headed to the polls in droves across the United States on Tuesday in the midterm elections with an extraordinary turnout.
All the 50 states were active in the voting likely to decide the trajectory of U.S. politics in the next two years, by choosing who will control Senate and House of Representatives, as well as hold the state and local offices.
Amid a divisive political atmosphere, an unprecedented level of participation was witnessed, also with a record early voting number and donation made to candidates.
More than 38 million ballots were cast ahead of the election day compared with the fewer than 20 million in 2014. Over 2.5 billion U.S. dollars in donations were made to the House and Senate candidates, likely making this year's midterm voting the most expensive congressional elections in U.S. history, showed data released Tuesday by the Center for Responsive Politics.
Voters in some states stood for hours in long lines at polling stations, and people on the U.S. East Coast braved heavy rains to vote in one of the nation's most highly contested midterm elections.
In Arlington, Virginia, Robin Sparrow, a democratic resident, said issues including healthcare and immigration brought him to the polling site. "It's really about bringing some normalcy to our politics and rhetoric that we have going on in the United States," he told Xinhua.
In Virginia's Fauquier County where President Donald Trump won a landslide victory in the 2016 presidential race, Republican voter Butch Johnson said he gives the Republican Party credit for the economy but expects more unity.
"I think there's a lot of room for improvement," Johnson said. "I think we need some unity and we need to come together."
The elections will determine the winners of 35 Senate seats and all 435 seats of the House, as well as 36 governorships and thousands of state-level official positions.
Having flipped at least 23 seats from Republican hands, the Democrats are set to retake control of the House after eight years in the minority, successfully splitting control of Congress with the Republicans, who have retained control of the Senate in earlier races, according to projections of multiple news outlets. This can greatly undermine the White House's policy efforts.
Voters in New York City cast their ballots amid a heavy downpour. Some people waited patiently outside Public School 154 in Harlem, uptown Manhattan, which was one of the over 1,200 booths across the city.
"The turnout has been particularly heavy," said the city's Board of Elections Commissioner Frederic M. Umane, while inspecting the site around 10 a.m. (1500 GMT), four hours after the voting began.
"This approaches what we would have in a presidential election," he said.
Young voters, who were in the past votes regarded as an unreliable group, went to the polls or felt motivated to vote as many believed the young people could change the political map in the country.
Jenan, a 21-year-old college student who cast her ballot in downtown Houston, said: "Voting is extremely important for young people. The majority of people who are voting today are older citizens whose opinions often don't match what a majority of people in America feel."
Julianne, 22, a college student in Houston, said the young people's "votes will be what ultimately affects the world in which they live when they are older."
In Chicago, Julia, 22, occupational therapist at the University of Illinois, said: "I find that it's very important to vote, especially since this person is going to very much impact the future of Illinois."
On the U.S. West Coast, a record 19,696,371 Californians were registered to vote on the deadline Oct. 22, an increase of 1,892,548 since the last gubernatorial election in 2014, showed official data released last week.
Nearly 4 million Californians cast ballots early, mostly by mail, which suggested a higher-than-average turnout for a midterm election, according to local media reports.
Kev Abazajian, professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of California, Irvine, said, "Many people are unhappy with the direction of their federal government today. Lots of political activities are going on to get changes to happen. That's why more voters show up to cast their ballots."
To many people like Abazajian, who ran for a seat in the city council, one of the most pressing issues for the United States is the rise in hate against groups that have been marginalized for centuries.
"There is strong polarization right now, lots of misinformation, hatred of foreign people, immigrants, and minorities in the U.S. It is not what America should be," said Abazajian, who migrated from Armenia during his childhood.
"Immigration, border control and tax policies are among the major issues that we are concerned," an Asian-American man in his 60s, who was reluctant to be named, told Xinhua when voting at Santa Anita Church, Arcadia, where there were indicators in nine languages to direct voters.
He said Asians and other ethnic minority groups should vote to influence decision-making and defend their own rights.
"We should reach out to immigrant groups, and let them understand this is the most powerful thing we can do to determine our future," Abazajian said.
"Changes may not happen overnight, but in two years, five years, or ten years when our kids are grown up, they can see the real change," he added.
(Xinhua reporters Liu Yang, Deng Xianlai, Xiong Maoling, Chang Yuan, Pan Lijun, Tan Jingjing, Huang Heng, Gao Shan, Tan Yixiao, Miao Zhuang and Gao Lu contributed to the story.)