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Indiana Legislative Update: Counting, Recounting and Re-Voting to Finalize our Election Results

It’s not quite one week after Election Day, and while we know more about Indiana and the US results, there are still some races too close to be called until all the votes are counted; recounted; or in some cases, re-voted.

Close to home, we’ve had at least one change in the outcomes expected last Wednesday after Clark County, IN discovered 1700 ballots that had failed to tabulate. This added 1032 votes in the House District #71 race creating a 225 vote victory for the incumbent Rep. Rita Fleming (D-Jeffersonville), keeping that seat for the Democrats and giving them a net +1 pickup. (the discovery of the ballots was made by the Clark County election office, which is run by a Republican County Clerk). If this result – and other races still subject to potential recount challenges – holds, the GOP will maintain a “supermajority” of 70-30 in the IN House (see results) and 40-10 in the IN Senate (see results) with approximately 20 new faces (out of 150 total) for the 2023 legislative session.

Legislators did meet in caucus last week to elect their leadership. Senate President Pro Tem Rod Bray (R-Martinsville) survived a challenge from Sen. Mark Messmer (R-Jasper) to maintain his position as the Senate GOP leader and House Speaker Todd Huston (R-Fishers) was re-elected to his position in the House. The Minority caucuses also maintained their leadership of Sen. Greg Taylor (D-Indianapolis) and Rep. Phil GiaQuinta (D-Fort Wayne).

Legislators meet for Organization Day next Tuesday, November 22nd. Between now and the end of the year, we’ll learn more about Committee membership and Chairs, the Session schedule and deadline days, and legislators will begin to file bills in advance of the 2023 Session that will convene in early January.

Looking at the US Senate (see results), Democrats have held on to seats in several states that were too close to call last week. Of the 100 Senate seats (6-year terms), 35 seats were up for election this year. Looking at incumbents not on the ballot and the races that have been “called” (meaning enough votes have been tabulated to confidently predict the winner), Democrats have a 50-48 margin. Those 50 Democrat senators along with VP Kamala Harris, who also serves as the Senate President and can cast tie-breaking votes, mean that the Democrats have at least 51 votes (a majority) in the Senate regardless of what happens in the remaining states, Alaska and Georgia. Alaska uses a ranked choice vote system, so that if no candidate achieves at least 50% of the vote, the candidate with the least number of votes is eliminated and if a voter voted for that candidate, their vote now goes to their next choice on the ballot (learn more). This process continues until a candidate reaches a 50% majority to be declared the winner – we’re not there yet. In Georgia, if no candidate reaches a 50% majority, the top two vote getting candidates (Incumbent Raphael Warnock (D) and Hershel Walker (R) in this case) go to a run-off election that will be held on December 6th – after that we’ll know the final membership of the US Senate.

In the US House (see results), all 435 seats were up for re-election with a party needing 218 to claim the majority. Of those, 415 races have been called and the current calculation is 212 for the GOP and 203 for the Democrats. There are 20 seats where vote counting and curing continues and races are too close to call a winner – these races are in AZ, CA, CO, ME, NY and OR. While it’s frustrating to wait for the full tabulation of votes in these districts, it is a sign of a healthy, competitive district where every vote counts and neither party has a “solid” majority of voters – this tends to lead to elected officials who are more responsive to their constituents and home regions. Regardless of which party ends up taking the majority – it currently appears that the GOP will – they will have a razor thin majority of just a few seats, which will make leading and governing that majority caucus a very difficult task for whoever is elected to Speaker and other leadership spots. Indiana’s 3rd District Congressman, Jim Banks,  is running within his caucus to be House Republican Whip (assistant leader).