Jim Beam column: Voting results taking too long

Published 7:28 am Sunday, November 13, 2022

The Tuesday midterm election has been over for more than four days now and Americans apparently still don’t have an answer to the most important question they wanted answered: Which major political party is going to control Congress for the next two years?

The Democrats needed 50 votes to control the U.S. Senate and they had 49 by noon Saturday. The Republicans needed 51, and they also had 49. Slow vote counting in Nevada, which has taken much too long, has delayed the final count.

The outcome of the Nevada Senate race could provide the answer needed, but it might also take a decision in a Dec. 6 Senate runoff in Georgia. Nevada election officials planned to count votes throughout the night Saturday.

Email newsletter signup

Democratic U.S. Sen. Mark Kelly was declared the winner in the Arizona Senate race late Friday. Republican Adam Laxalt had an 862 vote lead in Nevada over Democratic U.S. Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto at midafternoon Saturday with almost 95 percent of the votes counted.

Democratic U.S. Sen. Raphael Warnock and Republican Herschel Walker are in the Georgia Senate runoff. Warnock finished with 49.4 percent of the vote to 48.5 percent for Walker. A third candidate kept both of them from getting over 50 percent of the vote they needed to win.

Republicans need 218 seats in the 435-member House to take control from the Democrats, and they had 211 Saturday. Democrats had 203. One projection said the GOP would end up with 220 seats to 215 for Democrats. The current House has 220 Democrats, 212 Republicans and 3 vacancies.

The first of six election issues was whether Republicans who were expecting to get an overwhelming number of congressional seats would see a major red wave or whether it would be a ripple instead of a tsunami. The pickup of eight seats out of 435 is definitely not a tsunami.

The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate Roe v. Wade in June was a second major event with possible impact on the election. The AP said the decision could trigger a backlash against Republicans who oppose abortion rights and energize suburban women and younger voters, which appears to have happened.

Six states have now adopted ballot measures either keeping abortion on the books or establishing abortion rights. Five of those occurred Tuesday.

Third, news reports before the election said Latino voters were drifting to the right and that happened. The best example occurred in Florida where Gov. Ron DeSantis was re-elected overwhelmingly. The AP said southern border states are upset with President Joe Biden’s inability to address a rapid influx of illegal immigrants in that area.

Former President Donald Trump endorsed hundreds of candidates, and that was No. 4 in election issues. The former president picked up a couple of major wins but had many losses. However, as is typical of Trump, he predicted the midterms were a personal victory.

The AP said Republicans intensified their public criticism of Trump, with some of them saying it was time to move on after an unexpectedly poor showing in the midterm elections.

Virginia’s Republican lieutenant governor said, “The voters have spoken and they have said they want a different leader. And a true leader understands when they have become a liability. A true leader understands that it’s time to step off the stage. It is time to move on.”

The co-chair of Black Americans to Re-Elect Trump in 2020 said she “just couldn’t” support another Trump campaign.

Despite his many losses, Trump said, “Remember, I am ‘Stable Genius.’”

The AP also wondered what impact the midterms would have on the 2024 presidential election, the fifth issue. Although many Republicans are trying to shed Trump and many Democrats don’t want Biden to run again, the midterms didn’t discourage either one from running.

The sixth question was when we would know the outcome of the midterms. We don’t know at this point and it has been suggested the final results could take more time to be finalized.

Nevada’s count has taken several days, The AP said, partly because of the mail voting system created by the state Legislature in 2020. It requires counties to accept ballots postmarked by Election Day if they arrive up to four days later. Voters also have until the end of the day Monday to “cure,” or fix problems, with their ballots.

Having to wait this long after the election to get complete results is unacceptable. States that have dragged this vote-counting out need to take some lessons from states like Louisiana that gave their voters the complete returns on election night.