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The new rules adopted by both GOP-led chambers effectively shield members and their staff from public records requests, making investigations into any potential wrongdoing far more difficult. The exemptions from public records laws and the ability to destroy emails after 90 days apply to both chambers. Because the chambers adopted the changes via rule changes, not legislation, Republicans were able to bypass the need for Democratic Gov. Legislatures having the ability to shield themselves from public records laws is not unheard of. Minnesota, Iowa, Oklahoma and Massachusetts also have laws in place effectively exempting state legislators from public records requests, according to record request nonprofit MuckRock, though it remains exceedingly common for lawmakers in states where such exemptions don't explicitly exist to avoid complying with public records laws.
Bills in some states propose ranked-choice voting only for local elections, while others offer a temporary pilot system that would test the use of ranked-choice voting for a fixed number of years. The state GOP used a ranked-choice voting system at its state convention in 2021 to select a gubernatorial nominee. Discussions are also underway among policymakers in Arizona, who are looking at ranked-choice voting as a possible way of curbing extremism. The latest raft of proposed legislation follows a year of notable and growing enthusiasm for ranked-choice voting. In 2022, lawmakers in 25 states introduced legislation advancing or expanding ranked-choice voting, with bills enacted in six states, according to FairVote.
Florida could soon become the 26th state to allow individuals to carry concealed loaded guns anywhere without permits — a growing trend that has alarmed gun safety groups. “Constitutional carry” and “permitless carry” laws eliminate the requirement. Permitless carry laws get rid of that requirement. “Permitless carry causes harm, and there is data to prove it,” said Shannon Watts, a board member at the gun violence prevention group Everytown for Gun Safety. She pointed to multiple studies showing that states that have implemented permitless carry have had upticks in both gun violence and police shootings.
A Virginia bill would deem a pregnant person's fetus a passenger in a car, thereby allowing the vehicle to use the car pool lane on highways. Under the bill, the certifications would then be "linked" to toll collection devices — typically E-Z Passes — in vehicles. High occupancy lanes require drivers to have at least one passenger in their vehicles when they use the lanes. And by considering a pregnant person as two people — in this case, allowing a pregnant person to use an HOV lane — you're ultimately making it harder to uphold abortion rights, because you have essentially imbued a fetus with personhood," Nash added. Doug Ducey, a Republican, that included a provision, carried over from a 2021 law, that reproductive rights advocates say granted personhood to fetuses.
They were victorious in all six states that featured ballot initiatives around abortion access this year. If approved, it would require a 60% threshold of support for future ballot measures to pass, as opposed to the current majority. Ballot initiative groups say that’s the point. Critics have alleged the measure amounts to a test run for a more comprehensive measure that would raise the threshold for all such constitutional ballot initiatives. “They’re trying to use ballot measures — to change ballot measures,” said Fields Figueredo of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center.
Three buses coming from Texas dropped off about 140 recent migrants — including babies and young children — near Vice President Kamala Harris’ residence in Washington, D.C. in historically frigid temperatures on Saturday evening. But immigration activists said Saturday’s incident was particularly cruel because of the freezing temperatures in Washington, D.C., and because of the fact that it occurred on Christmas Eve. Madhvi Bahl, an organizer with the Migrant Solidarity Mutual Aid Network, confirmed the arrival of the migrants on Saturday to NBC News. The buses dropped the migrants near Harris’ residence at the Naval Observatory. There have been several instances of migrants being dropped off outside, or near, Harris’ residence.
Meanwhile, abortion-rights advocates and the ballot initiative groups they’re working with said preliminary efforts are also underway in Florida, Missouri and other states. Meanwhile, voters in two Democratic states, California and Vermont, chose to officially protect abortion rights in their constitutions. “Reproductive rights is a winning issue. The Dobbs decision had a huge impact,” said Chris Melody Fields Figueredo, the executive director of the Ballot Initiative Strategy Center, which works with progressive organizations to help advance citizen-led ballot measures. “And what we know — that about a majority of Americans actually support reproductive rights and abortion access — means we have an incredible opportunity.”
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger on Wednesday called for the state Legislature to end general election runoff contests. “Georgia is one of the only states in the country with a General Election Runoff,” he said in a statement. It was the state's third Senate general election runoff in the past two election cycles. Under Georgia law, a runoff occurs if no candidate wins more than 50% of the vote in an election. Georgia is one of only two states — the other is Louisiana — that continue to hold general election runoffs (though another nine use runoffs in primaries).
The proposals have alarmed voting rights activists and state Democrats, who tried and failed last year to block a GOP-backed overhaul of election laws — a priority of Gov. The 62 voting rights-related bills Texas lawmakers have already prefiled represent nearly all prefiled voting rights legislation across the country, according to a review of prefiled bills by Voting Rights Lab and NBC News. An election police forceRepublican-authored Texas bills, such as HB 549 and SB 220, propose creating a system of state “election marshals,” who would investigate allegations of violations of election and voting laws, and file criminal charges when warranted. Harsher penaltiesLegislation such as HB 39, HB 52, HB 222, HB 397 and SB 166 aims to raise the penalty for election and voting rights crimes to a felony from a misdemeanor. “All my bill does is restore the felony punishment for illegal voting,” Texas Rep. David Spiller, the author of HB 52, said in an interview.
WASHINGTON — If it’s Monday ... It’s the last day of campaigning before tomorrow’s Georgia Senate runoff. ... NBC’s Vaughn Hillyard covers the closing messages by Democrat Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker. And just looking at the campaigns, which get the biggest bang per advertising buck, it’s Warnock at $25.2 million, versus Walker at $10.1 million. But now it’s $11.8 million — behind Warnock’s $25 million and the $20.3 million from Georgia Honor, a Democratic Super PAC. Runoff watch: Walker accuser speaks to NBC NewsDays after she first revealed an allegation of domestic abuse against Georgia Republican Senate hopeful Herschel Walker, a former girlfriend of his sat down with NBC News to detail those allegations.
It’s a provision that voting rights experts say continues to confuse voters — especially college students or others who already face barriers — and results in many of them voting elsewhere or not at all. Nicks could have brought in another form of identification to vote; under Georgia law, her passport or her New York state identification card would have sufficed, for example. “Students in general often have a more difficult time accessing the ballot box because of all sorts of things. There are at least 10,000 students enrolled at private HBCUs in Georgia. Voting rights experts acknowledge that number of voters in Georgia affected by the provision ultimately represents a narrow slice of the state’s electorate.
Here are several of the ways the new law could affect voters in the runoff. Plus, due to an ongoing lawsuit against the state, it remains uncertain whether one Saturday early voting day, on Nov. 26, will be allowed. This year, that would mean there would be no early in-person voting on Nov. 26, the Saturday following Thanksgiving. But under Georgia law, runoff voting may not begin until after officials have certified the general election vote, which will be on Monday, Nov. 21, per the Georgia Secretary of State’s office. "But now because of SB 202, you can only do that during the hours of early voting, which can often be a regular 9-to-5."
Raffensperger, a Republican, had maintained that changes to Georgia voting laws meant that there could be no early voting on Nov. 26, the only Saturday when it would have been possible for Georgians to cast an early vote in the hotly contested race. Brian Kemp in March 2021, which stipulates early in-person voting must end the Friday before the runoff. The law also stipulates early in-person voting not be held on any Saturday that follows a “public or legal holiday” on the preceding Thursday or Friday. Raffensperger contended that meant there would be no early in-person voting on Nov. 26, the Saturday following Thanksgiving. Voting rights groups have pushed counties in Georgia to open up early in-person voting on Nov. 22, 23 and 27.
In the 13 races in six battleground states where an election denier was on the ballot for governor, secretary of state or attorney general, 12 lost, according to the latest NBC News projections. Arizona — along with Michigan and Alabama — was one of three states where election deniers advanced to be the GOP nominees for governor, secretary of state and attorney general. In Pennsylvania, meanwhile, Republican Doug Mastriano — who was one of the most high-profile election deniers — lost the race for governor to Democrat Josh Shapiro. “But voters sent a very clear message that Americans deeply care about democracy and don’t want extremists running our nation’s elections.”The defeats of election deniers spanned well beyond swing states. All 14 races where election deniers won were in states that voted to elect Trump in both 2016 and 2020.
Republican Joe Lombardo has won the race for governor in Nevada, NBC News projects, narrowly defeating Democratic incumbent Steve Sisolak. "Obviously that is not the outcome I want, but I believe in our election system, in democracy and honoring the will of Nevada voters. Steve Sisolak and his wife, Kathy Sisolak, arrive Tuesday at a polling center in Las Vegas. (Nevada state law allows mailed ballots to arrive days later, as long as they are postmarked by Election Day and arrive before Saturday evening). In the weeks leading up to the election, Nevada had emerged as a weak spot for Democratic incumbents, including Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto, in part because economic issues have hit its residents particularly hard.
Democrat Tina Kotek has won the race for governor in Oregon, NBC News projects, narrowly defeating Republican Christine Drazan. With her victory Kotek will be one of the first out lesbian governors in the United States. She joins another out lesbian governor-elect, Democrat Maura Healey of Massachusetts, in making history in the 2022 midterms. Drazan came close, bombarding Kotek with relentless attacks over record-breaking crime and homelessness and tying her to term-limited Democratic Gov. Her victory suggests those messages may have broken through to Oregon voters.
The Alaska Senate race is headed to a ranked choice runoff, as no candidate on the ballot, including the top two vote-getters, GOP Sen. Lisa Murkowski and GOP challenger Kelly Tshibaka, will reach 50%, according to NBC News. In ranked-choice elections, voters identify first choices on their ballots, then rank the other candidates in order of preference. If no candidate receives a majority of first-choice votes on the first count, the election moves to an instant runoff. In 2020, Alaska voters approved a move to nonpartisan primaries that send the top four vote-getters to ranked choice general elections. ET): A previous version of this article misstated when Alaska voters approved a move to nonpartisan primaries and ranked choice general elections.
GOP Sen. Ron Johnson has won re-election to a third term in Wisconsin, NBC News projects, narrowly defeating Democrat Mandela Barnes. “The votes are in,” Johnson said in an email statement that was released before NBC News and other news outlets made the call. But a successful rebrand, as well as unrelenting attacks against Barnes on crime and criminal justice issues, appeared to help Johnson's standing among voters. His campaign focused heavily on promises to protect abortion rights and Social Security benefits. In the final weeks, Johnson focused on crime in particular, unleashing a barrage of negative ads that highlighted rising crime rates and singling out things Barnes had said about criminal justice reform.
Laura Kelly has won re-election to a second term, NBC News projects, defeating Republican challenger Derek Schmidt. Kelly was the only Democratic governor running for re-election in a state won by Donald Trump in 2020. Any path to victory for Kelly was always going to rely almost entirely on her ability to appeal to Republican voters. In Kansas, registered Republicans outnumber registered Democrats nearly 2 to 1 (Republicans make up 44% of registered voters, Democrats 26%, and unaffiliated voters 29%). Her ads during the race focused heavily on how she had done just that during her four years in office.
Tony Evers has won re-election to a second term, NBC News projects, narrowly defeating Republican businessman Tim Michels. With 89% of precincts reporting, Evers had 50.9% of the vote, while Michels got 48%. Shortly after NBC News called the race for Evers, Michels told supporters at his election night party in Milwaukee that he had conceded the race. Republican gubernatorial candidate Tim Michels at a rally hosted by former President Donald Trump in Waukesha, Wis., on Aug. 5. Evers and Michels had been running neck and neck for the entire the race.
Georgia Republican Gov. Brian Kemp wins re-election, NBC News projects, fending off a challenge from Stacey Abrams. Because Kemp, who defeated Abrams in 2018, is expected to win more than 50% of the vote, there will not be a runoff election in the race. In recent weeks, however, Kemp had pulled away in the polls, leading Abrams in most surveys by upward of 6 percentage points. “Democracy failed in Georgia,” Abrams said after the contest, which was marred by allegations of voter roll purging and suppression largely affecting Black voters.
Greg Abbott has won re-election to a third term, NBC News projects, soundly defeating a challenge from Democrat Beto O’Rourke. Polls in recent months had consistently shown Abbott leading; a recent RealClearPolitics average of surveys before the election showed him ahead by more than 8 percentage points. Greg Abbott at a campaign event in Fairview on Aug. 31. Texas hasn’t elected a Democratic governor in more than three decades, Abbott is a formidable fundraiser, and Texas Republicans have built inroads with Latino voters. After polls showed the race narrowing for a brief period over the summer, they then began showing Abbott pulling ahead.
“We cannot move on from the 2020 election,” he said at a debate in April during the GOP primary. Marchant has said he would not have certified the 2020 results in the state, which Biden won. Republican Tudor Dixon — who has said the 2020 election was stolen — is running for governor against Democratic incumbent Gretchen Whitmer. Matthew DePerno, who is running for attorney general against Democratic incumbent Dana Nessel, has also repeatedly espoused debunked conspiracy theories surrounding the 2020 election results in Michigan. DePerno has also argued that any Michigan resident should have the right to demand a vote audit of the state’s election results.
In the aftermath of the 2020 election, local election officials became frequent targets of supporters of former President Donald Trump who supported his false claims of election fraud. Election officials also said that the courts could inject chaos into the process if results are contested for weeks following the vote. Droves of election workers throughout Georgia quit their positions following the 2020 election. And in Pennsylvania, nearly 50 top election officials have left their post within the past two years. “Election workers and election officials leave or stop coming in, more errors can occur as a result, which in turn can fuel disinformation,” he said.
If election deniers in those races win, their ability to affect future elections could be made more robust by having cooperative election deniers in their state houses to help push legislation remaking certain election laws in those states. The group’s analysis found that election deniers were most prevalent in Arizona state legislative races, where they made up 87% of all Republican nominees in those races. In both Pennsylvania and Michigan, 62% of all Republican state legislative nominees in each state were election deniers, the group found. In Minnesota, 42% of all Republican nominees in state legislative races were election deniers, while in Nevada, 31% were. That included several incumbents and candidates in Minnesota who'd who had questioned or challenged the results of the 2020 election.
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