New Jersey and Arizona vote to legalise marijuana

4 November 2020, 04:19 | Updated: 4 November 2020, 04:57

New Jersey has voted to legalise recreational marijuana
New Jersey has voted to legalise recreational marijuana. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

New Jersey and Arizona have voted to legalise recreational marijuana, meaning people aged 21 and over will be allowed to have it for personal use.

The Garden State had already legalised it for medical reasons, and voters in the state have now decided to extend its use.

Earlier in the evening, Joe Biden won 14 Electoral College votes from the state, giving him much needed support in what is turning out to be a nail-biting Presidential election.

Mississippi, Montana and South Dakota are also voting on whether to legalise the drug, and their results are expected later in the evening.

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Polls have closed across the United States' east coast after an epic election campaign fought between President Donald Trump and Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

The night opened with predictable victories for each candidate, with Mr Trump taking states including Kansas and North Dakota and Mr Biden's haul including Colorado and Virginia, two former battlegrounds that have become Democratic strongholds.

It is too early to call the results in the 2020 battleground states of Florida, Georgia and Pennsylvania.

Americans made their choice as the nation faced a number of historic crises with each candidate declaring the other fundamentally unfit to navigate the challenges. Daily life has been upended by coronavirus, which has killed more than 232,000 Americans and cost millions of jobs.

Millions of voters put aside worries about the virus - and some long queues - to turn out in person, joining 102 million fellow Americans who voted days or weeks earlier, a record number that represented 73% of the total vote in the 2016 presidential election.

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Mr Biden entered polling day with multiple paths to victory, while Mr Trump, playing catch-up in a number of battleground states, had a narrower but still feasible road to clinch 270 electoral college votes.

Control of the Senate is also at stake. Democrats need to net three seats if Mr Biden captures the White House to gain control of all of Washington for the first time in a decade. Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky won re-election in an early victory for the Republicans and Republican senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a close Trump ally, fought off a fierce challenge to hang onto his seat.

The parties traded a pair of seats in other early results. Democratic former Colorado governor John Hickenlooper defeated incumbent senator Cory Gardner, and in Alabama Republican Tommy Tuberville beat senator Doug Jones. The House is expected to remain under Democratic control.

As the results began to come in, the nation braced for what was to come - and an outcome that might not be known for days.

A new anti-scaling fence has been erected around the White House, and in cities from New York to Denver to Minneapolis, workers boarded up businesses to protect against potential violent clashes on the streets.

With the worst public health crisis in a century still fiercely present, the pandemic - and Mr Trump's handling of it - was the inescapable focus for 2020.

For Mr Trump, the election stood as a judgment on his four years in office, a term in which he bent Washington to his will, challenged faith in its institutions and changed how America was viewed across the globe. Rarely trying to unite a country divided along lines of race and class, he has often acted as an insurgent against the government he led while undermining the nation's scientists, bureaucracy and media.

At the White House, more than 100 family members, friends, donors and staff were set to watch returns from the East Room. Mr Trump was watching votes come in upstairs in the residence with a few close aides. Most top campaign officials were monitoring returns from a "war room" set up in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building.

Mr Biden spent the day campaigning in Scranton, Pennsylvania, where he was born, and in Philadelphia with a couple of local stops in Wilmington, Delaware, where he is spending election night.

The president began his day on an upbeat note, predicting that he would do even better than in 2016. But during a midday visit to his campaign headquarters, he spoke in a gravelly, subdued tone.

Mr Trump told reporters: "Winning is easy. Losing is never easy, not for me it's not."