By John R. Stone
The election of 2022 is behind us, or behind most of us, except for the folks in Georgia who will be having a runoff for their Senate seat and Alaska where ranked choice voting will take a little more time for their Senate seat.
I was surprised there wasn’t a greater off-year election change in Congress in terms of more Republicans getting elected. And I was surprised that the Minnesota Legislature is now fully in the hands of Democrats.
Frankly, I prefer split government. As an independent I feel this protects us from the extremes of either political party. Democrats have a narrow edge in the Minnesota Senate and also in the U.S. Senate. Republicans will take over the House with about as slim a majority there as Democrats have in the Senate.
One message I take from the election is that citizens are mostly satisfied with the election system as it works now. Things went mostly smoothly and I think most people have confidence that the results reflect the actual vote count. Democrats and Republicans won and lost various races and there didn’t seem to be any patterns that would justify conspiracy theories.
Something else encouraging were some of the concession statements. Many who lost races for office graciously conceded. It is a reminder that democracy works when we select our leaders ourselves at the ballot box and that those elected have a duty to represent all of us, not just those who voted for them.
Maybe the closeness of the majorities will encourage some cooperation to get at least the essential work of the government done at the state and federal levels.
The House of Representatives will be interesting to watch. Rep. Kevin McCarthy is seeking to become speaker of the house with the Republicans winning the majority of House seats. But the party also has a Freedom Caucus that is a conservative group within the party. Not all members support McCarthy and that could be a problem with a narrow Republican majority.
McCarthy has said he would not court Democrats to vote for him, probably because it would upset the Freedom Caucus and it would wonder what kind of concessions he would offer for votes.
The speaker of the house has a lot to do with what legislation even makes it to the floor for a vote. He (or she) can hand out committee assignments. It is an important post.
So we will see over the coming weeks how that shakes out, especially as we learn more about the final races to be decided and their outcomes so the final Republican margin is known.
The reason more isn’t known about some races are state voting laws. Alaska has ranked choice voting at the state level and two Republicans are vying for one Senate seat. Neither got 50% of the vote so calculating a second round will take place. Another state allows military member’s ballots up to Nov. 16 to arrive by mail and they will be counted if they were postmarked by election day.
This doesn’t count any recounts that might take place. Colorado, for example, does an automatic recount if a race is decided by less than half a percentage point. That appears to be the case in at least one race.
And in Georgia there will be a runoff race between Sen. Raphael Warnock and Herschel Walker for Warnock’s Senate seat December 6 since neither won 50% of the vote in the general election.
Overall it seemed to me that people had confidence in this election and it’s results, even some of who those who came out on the short end in some tight races seem to feel the results were fair if not what they would have preferred.
Now we get to see how those who made all those big promises produce!