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Missouri AG Eric Schmitt wins Senate seat over Trudy Busch Valentine

Missouri Attorney General Eric Schmitt is the state’s next U.S. Senator, earning a victory over Trudy Busch Valentine in the 2022 general midterm election. The Associated Press called the race just after 9:00 pm.

This U.S. Senate seat was held by longtime Senator Roy Blunt, who announced he would not be running for reelection in early 2021.

“Missourians made the right choice in sending Eric Schmitt to the U.S. Senate. I congratulate the Schmitt family, campaign staff, and supporters on a well-deserved victory,” tweets Sen Roy Blunt.

“Congratulations to Missouri’s next U.S. Senator Eric Schmitt and State Auditor Scott Fitzpatrick on their well-earned election victories. Guided by common sense, conservative principles, and family values, we know both men will be exceptional leaders that serve our state with the dignity and respect that Missourians deserve and demand,” tweets Gov. Parson.

Schmitt won the Republican primary in August over former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens, U.S. Representatives Vicky Hartzler and Billy Long, and others.

During Schmitt’s time as attorney general, he made headlines for his response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Schmitt sued multiple school districts in Missouri over mask mandates, accusing districts of overstepping their authority and asking parents to report schools enforcing the mandates.

Busch Valentine ran for U.S. Senate by campaigning in favor of safe and legal abortions and standing with the LGBTQ+ community.

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Cori Bush wins reelection bid for Missouri Congressional District 1

ST. LOUIS – Cori Bush will serve a second term as a Missouri Congresswoman. The Associated Press has projected Bush the winner of the election for Missouri’s 1st Congressional District.

Bush will retain her seat after a challenge from Republican candidate Andrew Jones.

When first elected to her role in 2018, Bush was the first African-American woman to serve in the U.S. House of Representatives from Missouri. Bush has taken a lead role in fighting to extend the CARES Act eviction moratorium last year and has served on several judiciary committees during her tenure.

District 1 covers all of St. Louis City and several cities in north and central St. Louis County. The congressional district seat, which was last occupied by a Republican in 1949, is one of five in Missouri for which voters elected candidates.  Three of those districts represent parts of eastern Missouri or the St. Louis metropolitan area.

Click here for the latest election results.

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Amendment 3: Missouri voters approve marijuana legalization

KANSAS CITY, Mo. – Missourians have voted Tuesday in favor of legalizing the recreational use of marijuana.

The Associated Press called the race at 1:40 a.m. Wednesday with Missouri Amendment 3 garnering about 53% of voter support at that time.

Missouri’s legislators failed to pass recreational marijuana at least twice in the past, leading advocates to go to voters for approval instead. The group Legal Missouri 2022 led a petition drive to get the constitutional amendment on the ballot.

At a campaign party Tuesday night in St. Louis, Legal Missouri 2022 leaders called Amendment 3 a win and addressed supporters.

“How does it feel to make history?” campaign manager John Payne asked the crowded room.

Missouri is now the 20th state, as well as Washington D.C., to legalize marijuana in the United States. The move coming 10 years after Colorado was the first to do so. Four other states are also voting on marijuana legalization on Election Day.

The new amendment changes the state constitution to allow those 21 and older to possess up to 3 ounces of marijuana and have up to six flowering plants, six clones and six seedlings.

Missourians could legally buy recreational marijuana as soon as February 2023, according to the Department of Health and Senior Services.

Recreational marijuana products would have a 6% sales tax, estimated to bring in $40 million for the state. The funds would be split amongst veterans services, the Missouri State Public Defender program and for grants related to drug addiction prevention and treatment.

Medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation facilities and manufacturing licensees will be given the first chance to apply for a comprehensive license to sell both medical and recreational marijuana. After that, a lottery system will be used for an additional 144 micro-licenses.

The amendment will also erase past marijuana-related convictions for nonviolent offenders and those whose conviction didn’t include selling to minors or driving while high.

In October, Democratic President Joe Biden announced he was pardoning thousands of people for federal marijuana possession convictions.

Justice Gatson, a spokesperson with Legal Missouri 2022, said sentencing for some minor marijuana offenses doesn’t often fit the crime.

But opponents of Amendment 3 have argued many of the states that have legalized marijuana are still dealing with the issues they expected to fix by making the change. Platte County Prosecutor Eric Zahnd pointed to marijuana-related traffic fatalities, crimes and children in possession of the drug.

There are also voters who support legalizing marijuana, but don’t believe Amendment 3 was the right answer. They are unhappy about the possession limits and other restrictions included in the amendment.

Missouri’s decision on recreational use comes just four years after voters approved the medical use of marijuana in 2018.

Across the state line in Kansas, however, neither medical nor recreational marijuana use is legal. State lawmakers have failed to approve a medical marijuana bill multiple times. It is one of only three states that has not implemented any kind of public-use marijuana program.

In less than two years since Missouri’s stores opened, medical marijuana dispensaries have reported about $500 million in sales. Tax revenue on medical marijuana sales benefits veterans’ healthcare services, resulting in almost $27 million.

Missouri’s medical marijuana director Lyndall Fraker said there are about 204,000 patients and 3,000 caregivers that have medical marijuana licenses in Missouri.

The recreational marijuana amendment also includes revisions to the medical marijuana program.

“The patient renewal period goes from one year to three years,” Fraker said. “Now they are paying $25 for one year, it will be $25 for three years, so they will only have to have their doctor’s certification done every three years.”

The revisions also would allow nurse practitioners to certify a patient’s medical marijuana card instead of just a physician.

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Candidates for highest offices in Kansas stop in Pittsburg

PITTSBURG, Kans. — The Republican candidates for Kansas Governor and Lieutenant Governor made several stops across the Sunflower state today (11/7). Their final campaign stop this evening: Pittsburg. Republicans Derek Schmidt and Katie Sawyer made four campaign stops across Eastern Kansas today, with just hours to go until the polls open for Tuesday’s midterm election. The final campaign stop for the Kansas governor’s race was at the Crawford County Republican Party Office in Pittsburg.

During the last two weeks, both Schmidt and Sawyer have spent nearly twelve hours each day, co-campaigning throughout many towns and communities in the state. Tomorrow (11/8 — election day), the two candidates will make one final push to get voters to the polls before they close at 7:00 p.m..

“In the last two weeks leading up to this election, Derek and I have both been on the road extensively through the state, and collectively we have been in more than 95 communities in Kansas,” said Katie Sawyer, Republican candidate for Kansas Lieutenant Governor.

Republican candidate for Kansas Lieutenant Governor, Katie Sawyer speaks with potential voters at the Crawford County Republican Party Office in Pittsburg, Kansas.

“I think the vast majority of people already know which way they’re going to vote, the issue is will they in fact show up to vote, and so we have to make sure that happens for the folks on our side of the equation,” said Derek Schmidt, Republican candidate for Kansas Governor.

Republican candidate for Kansas Governor, Derek Schmidt talks to supporters at the Crawford County Republican Party Office in Pittsburg, Kansas.

| Southeast Kansas Nonprofits Celebrate Grant Funding >

Kansas gubernatorial Republican candidates, Derek Schmidt and Katie Sawyer face off tomorrow against Democrat challengers, Laura Kelly and David Toland, who are the current Governor and Lieutenant Governor of Kansas.

After the polls close, you’ll find election results HERE on Fourstateshomepage.com, “Your Local Election Headquarters.” You’ll also find election results on KSN Local News at 10:00 p.m. and KODE Action 12 News at 10:00 p.m.

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Missouri NAACP says passing Amendment 3 will not diversify marijuana

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — The Missouri NAACP is asking voters to vote “No” on Amendment 3 saying legalizing marijuana will not the industry more diverse.

According to Legal Missouri 22, the campaign that put the question on the ballot, if Amendment 3 is approved there would be 144 new small marijuana businesses awarded to historically disadvantaged populations, but the NAACP said that’s not guaranteed.

“That diversity that the campaign is really looking at is Black and Brown people working in the gardens that grow the marijuana,” Missouri NAACP President Nimrod Chapel Jr.

Later this week, we will know if Missouri voters plan to legalize recreational marijuana. The Show-Me State would join 19 others in allowing cannabis to be used for recreational purposes.

“It would generate hundreds of millions of dollars, if not over a billion dollars, on an annual basis for the state’s economy, create good-paying jobs,” Legal Missouri 2022 campaign manager John Payne said.

  • The question on the ballot added by Legal Missouri 22 reads, “Do you want to amend the Missouri Constitution to:
  • Remove state prohibitions on purchasing, possession, consuming, using, delivering, manufacturing, and selling marijuana for personal use for adults over the age of 21
  • Require a registration card for personal cultivation with prescribed limits
  • Allow persons with certain marijuana-related non-violent offenses to petition for release from incarceration or parole and probation and have records expunged
  • Establish a lottery selection process to award licenses and certificates
  • Issue equally distributed licenses to each congressional district
  • Impose a six percent tax on the retail price of marijuana to benefit various programs
  • “It’s also going to allow those people who have records for non-violent marijuana offenses with the exemption to sales to minors and driving under the influence, to expunge those records and to have those records expunged automatically,” Payne said.

If passed by voters, medical marijuana dispensaries, cultivation, and manufacturing licensees would first be given the chance to apply for a comprehensive license to sell both medical and recreational marijuana. Then, after the comprehensive licenses are disbursed, a lottery system would be used for an additional 144 micro-licenses that would have restrictions on who they can sell their product too. Under the micro-license, the cultivation facilities will be able to grow up to 250 plants.

“Instead, they are going to charge tens of thousands of dollars in the application process, they are going to have give it away to rich and powerful people and we’re going to be excluded from a billion-dollar industry again,” Chapel said. “To say that we’re going to make sure that these micro-licenses go to minorities, I think that is trash.”

In the 40-page amendment document, it says if it’s approved by voters, a “chief equity officer’ would establish a program dedicated to communities that have been impacted by marijuana prohibition on the licensing process and offer resources to those interested in a license.

The statewide organization’s position on the amendment is different from chapters of the NAACP in St. Louis, St. Louis County and St. Charles County. All three have endorsed Amendment 3. Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas has also announced he is in favor of the referendum. On the other side of the state, St. Louis City Mayor Tishaura Jones is asking voters to vote “No” on the question. She tweeted last week, “Legalization doesn’t equal decriminalization. We deserve better. Vote No on Amendment 3.”

Payne said the Missouri General Assembly has had the opportunity to do this for years but hasn’t.

“When the legislature fails to act, this is why the initiative petition exists, that’s the whole purpose of it, so it has come to a point where the voters do need to take it into their own hands,” Payne said. “If the voters don’t act on it, then I don’t expect anyone is going to in the near future.”

Friday afternoon, the Missouri NAACP sent a cease-and-desist letter to Legal Missouri 22 for using its name for promotional items.

“Specifically, Legal Missouri 2022 is prohibited from using the name of the Missouri State Conference of the NAACP or any of its member units including the following units: St. Louis County branch; the Columbia branch; and St. Louis Branch as it relates to any and all NAACP units in the state in any of its advertisements or in any other capacity, without the express consent of the NAACP,” the letter states.

Last month, the campaign also received a cease-and-desist letter from the Missouri State Highway Patrol regarding pair of commercials.

“It’s not just unfair, it’s wrong,” Chapel said. “We know what Amendment 3 is going to do. It’s going to keep generations behind. It’s going to keep entire communities from ever participating in a billion-dollar industry that’s not only in Missouri but nationwide.”

The Department of Health and Senior Services (DHSS) doesn’t have a stance on whether Amendment 3 on the November ballot passes or fails but would be required to put the program into effect. But if the measure is approved by voters, how soon could Missourians buy recreational marijuana, and how is the state preparing to roll out the program?

It was four years ago that voters approved medical marijuana, sending tax revenue to veterans’ healthcare services. Since then, the state has brought in nearly $495 million, sending $27 million to veterans’ health services.

DHSS said there are about 204,000 patients and 3,000 caregivers that have licenses in Missouri.

Under the medical marijuana program, patients are taxed at 4% while the initiative petition says recreational marijuana products would have a 6% sales tax, estimated to bring in $40 million for the state.

According to the amendment, 2% of the 6% sales tax will go to the “Veterans, Health and Community Reinvestment Fund,” then one third of the remaining balance will be transferred to the Missouri Veterans Commission, another third goes to the Missouri State Public Defender program, and the remaining portion goes to DHSS to provide grants to increase education and resources for drug addiction treatment and overdose prevention. Local municipalities are also allowed to tax recreational marijuana up to 3%.

The referendum would allow those 21 and older to possess up to three ounces of marijuana and have up to six flowering plants, six clones, and six seedlings. It also would expunge non-violent offenses.

Legal Missouri 22 said the vast majority of people who have a non-violent offense are getting simple possession citations or arrests for possession of less than 35 grams. Allowing Missourians 21 and older to possess up to three ounces at a time would be the second-highest possession limit in the country.

If approved by voters, DHSS expects recreational pot to be available for purchase sometime in February.

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Here's when polls open on Election Day

Voters across the country will head to the polls on Tuesday to vote in the upcoming midterm elections following a dramatic few months and record early turnout. 

Here is when the polls open in each state and Washington, D.C. All times are local time.

Alabama 

7 a.m. 

Alaska 

7 a.m. 

Arizona 

6 a.m. 

Arkansas 

7:30 a.m. 

California 

7 a.m.  

Colorado 

7 a.m.  

Connecticut 

6 a.m. 

Delaware 

7 a.m.  

Florida 

7 a.m.  

Georgia 

7 a.m.  

Hawaii 

7 a.m.  

Idaho 

8 a.m.  

Illinois 

6 a.m.  

Indiana 

6 a.m. 

Iowa 

7 a.m. 

Kansas 

7 a.m.  

Kentucky 

6 a.m. 

Louisiana 

6 a.m.  

Maine 

6 a.m.  

Maryland 

7 a.m.  

Massachusetts 

7 a.m. 

Michigan 

7 a.m. 

Minnesota 

7 a.m. 

Mississippi 

7 a.m. 

Missouri 

6 a.m.  

Montana 

7 a.m.  

Nebraska 

8 a.m. 

Nevada 

7 a.m.] 

New Hampshire 

Varies 

New Jersey 

6 a.m. 

New Mexico 

7 a.m.  

New York 

6 a.m.  

North Carolina 

6:30 a.m. 

North Dakota 

Varies 

Ohio 

6:30 a.m.  

Oklahoma 

7 a.m.  

Oregon 

Varies  

Pennsylvania 

7 a.m.  

Rhode Island 

7 a.m.  

South Carolina 

7 a.m.  

South Dakota 

7 a.m.  

Tennessee 

Varies 

Texas 

7 a.m.  

Utah 

7 a.m.  

Vermont 

Varies  

Virginia 

6 a.m.  

Washington 

Varies  

West Virginia 

6:30 a.m.  

Wisconsin 

7 a.m.  

Wyoming 

7 a.m.  

District of Columbia

7 a.m.

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Here's when polls close in every state on Election Day

Here are times when polls close on Election Day in every state and Washington, D.C. All times are listed in local time.

Alabama

7 p.m.

Alaska

8 p.m.

Arizona

7 p.m.

Arkansas

7:30 p.m.

California

8 p.m.

Colorado

7 p.m.

Connecticut

8 p.m.

Delaware

8 p.m.

Florida

7 p.m.

Georgia

7 p.m.

Hawaii

7 p.m.

Idaho

8 p.m.

Illinois

7 p.m.

Indiana

6 p.m.

Iowa

8 p.m.

Kansas

7 p.m.

Kentucky

6 p.m.

Louisiana

8 p.m.

Maine

8 p.m.

Maryland

8 p.m.

Massachusetts

8 p.m.

Michigan

8 p.m.

Minnesota

8 p.m.

Mississippi

7 p.m.

Missouri

7 p.m.

Montana

8 p.m.

Nebraska

8 p.m.

Nevada

7 p.m.

New Hampshire

Varies

New Jersey

8 p.m.

New Mexico

7 p.m.

New York

9 p.m.

North Carolina

7:30 p.m.

North Dakota

Varies

Ohio

7:30 p.m.

Oklahoma

7 p.m.

Oregon

8 p.m.

Pennsylvania

8 p.m.

Rhode Island

8 p.m.

South Carolina

7 p.m. 

South Dakota

7 p.m.

Tennessee

Varies

Texas

7 p.m.

Utah

8 p.m.

Vermont

7 p.m.

Virginia

7 p.m.

Washington

8 p.m.

West Virginia

7:30 p.m.

Wisconsin

8 p.m. 

Wyoming

7 p.m.

District of Columbia

8 p.m.

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Recreational marijuana can benefit Missouri, proponents say

ST. LOUIS – Proponents want Missourians to consider how recreational cannabis can benefit the Show Me State if it passes statewide. Many signs off Chippewa Street in the Lindenwood Park neighborhood show support for Amendment 3.

“We estimate about $40 million in revenue to be taxed here at the statewide,” said Tom Bommarito with Green Light Medical Marijuana Dispensary. “Then there’s also an opportunity for local municipalities to do the same thing with another three percent tax, and they can use as well. Illinois right now is doing great. We have customers leaving every day to go over to Illinois. About $30 million a month is being spent in Illinois, and we need to stop that and have it spent here.”

Bommarito said there are 200,000 people in the system with medical marijuana cards, but opening it up to the six million Missouri residents could mean more revenue.

He has four stores located in Ferguson, Berkley, Baden, and St. Louis City.

Alderwoman Megan Green of the 15th Ward showed her support Wednesday for states that have benefited from passing recreational sales.

“This makes sense from a criminal justice standpoint and from an economic standpoint,” Green said. “Beyond the $40 million in taxes that we anticipate will be raised at a state level, it also gives the authority for local municipalities to enact a three percent local sales tax. That’s tax revenue that the city of St. Louis can use for a variety of different things, to improve the lives of residents in our city.”

Legal Missouri 2022 said part of the amendment will remove non-violent past marijuana offenses. The group said Missouri will be the first state in the country to pass automatic expungement by a vote of the people.

And the revenue?

“Then it’s divided equally between services for Missouri veterans for healthcare services for them, drug abuse prevention and treatment programs, and finally the state’s underfunded public defender system,” said John Payne, a campaign manager for Legal Missouri 2022.

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Candidates for MO State Rep. – District 125 respond to questions

MISSOURI (KSNF/KODE) — With the midterm election set for Tuesday, November 8th, registered voters across the country will soon head to the polls to cast their ballot.

But for many, questions about candidates still remain.

Questions like, “which candidate should I vote for,” and, “where do these candidates stand on the issues,” are important to voters, yet many still linger.

As “Your Local Election Headquarters,Fourstateshomepage.com is reaching out to those on the ballot, with the goal of getting answers to the questions voters may have about the candidates up for election this November.

We reached out to those running for State Representative from Missouri’s 125th District: Dane Diehl (Republican) and Robert Smith (Libertarian).

Below, you’ll find each candidate’s response to several questions that voters from the 125th District in Missouri, want to know.


QUESTION 1

What sets you campaign apart from your opponent’s campaign?

Dane Diehl (Republican)

Dane Diehl

“I think our platforms have some similarities, and of course there are some differences. I do believe in a limited government, but I believe that we do need some government interaction in our lives. I’m not a fan of just complete privatization. I also believe in being in the majority and that being on the Republican side in the State House can be of great benefit. You have other people to talk with, and having a majority in the House allows you to get more things done for the District. I think the Republican support that I have, and being on the Republican side, and some of the endorsements that we’ve earned over the race has really, really helped. I think the difference between us is my Republican values, my Conservative values and overall what it means to be a Republican in this race.”

Robert Smith (Libertarian)

Robert Smith

“What sets me apart is the fact that I understand the role of government and I understand its inner workings, and that I’ve actually been involved in Jefferson City, helping shape legislation. I go to committee hearings, and I testify for and against the legislation. I think that really puts me ahead of somebody who has not been up in Jefferson City doing anything. I’m more qualified and I have more experience and I have more knowledge than my opponent.”


QUESTION 2

What’s special about Missouri House District 125, including the residents of the District?

Dane Diehl (Republican)

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is Dane-Diehl.jpg
Dane Diehl

“I think one of the most special things about District 125 is our rural way of life. We’re extremely small business oriented. We have a few bigger towns in the district, but other than that we have a large portion of the District that’s rural. So, as a farmer, that’s one of things that’s important to me; the agriculture aspect of our District. Agriculture is the number one industry in Missouri and by far, the number one driver in our area. So, I love that our district is still extremely agriculture oriented. It’s something that needs to be fought for and kept in the forefront. We’re just getting out of a special session where we passed legislation which had specific tax credits in there that’s gonna greatly benefit our District and the way we do things. It just hits home because our small businesses are going to really benefit from that. As for the residents of this District, they’re working class people. We have some industry in our District, but everybody in our area works for a living. They know what it takes to earn that dollar, and as a representative of the area, you have to try to do the best to keep that dollar in their pocket and help them by representing the way they work and do things. So, I think just the working mindset and the fact that everyone here works for a better cause and for a better tomorrow, whether it be for family or whether it be for their own personal gain. With me being a farmer, I know what it takes to get your hands dirty, and what it takes to lead, and what our end goal is for our area. So, I’m happy to represent the working class folks and all the people that are in our District.”

Robert Smith (Libertarian)

Robert Smith

“It has great economic opportunity being in between Kansas City and along a major artery that we call I-49, so it has great potential. Another thing is, it’s an amazing opportunity for outdoor recreation. We do a lot of hunting and fishing in our parts, and we have a lot of successful years of hunting. So, District 125 is really special and the fact that it has economic opportunity along with the ability for people to get out and enjoy themselves in nature. As for what’s special about the residents of the District, it’s the fact that they’re all freedom loving patriots. There’s no doubt about that in District 125 and there’s no doubt that District 125 is a proponent and a promoter of liberty in itself.”


QUESTION 3

What would you like to accomplish if elected this November?

Dane Diehl (Republican)

Dane Diehl

“If elected, I’d love to see more options for economic development in Missouri that would continue to support our small businesses. These are a few of the fillers: I ran on “support our law enforcement and first responders.” Growing up, I’ve always felt our area was extremely safe and I feel like that’s what needs to be provided to other people. I want to continue to promote and work for legislation for agriculture. I believe anything that comes across our desk, it’s gonna promote agriculture and help farmers, ranchers, businesses. Anybody involved in that industry, I have to be a supporter of. My mother was a school teacher and I ran on the platform of supporting our public education system and students. Now, that does need some work in several areas, and we can take care of some of that at the state level, for sure. But I’m a supporter of public education and our district has a lot of smaller schools, and we have to continue to support those school districts and work with the teachers, at the state and local level. I also want people to know that, if you’re on the education front, I’m going to be in their corner and work for them.”

Robert Smith (Libertarian)

Robert Smith

“The first things I’d like to accomplish is I’m going to propose a gold and silver commodity currency in Missouri, and this will help set us apart and give us a different opportunity to partake in an economic exchange outside of a fake government currency. I also want to eliminate as much taxes as possible, especially sales tax on food and that’s something that I’m currently working on in Jefferson City. We have enough support to get somewhere with that in 2023. So when I get elected, we’re going to do the gold and silver, voluntary commodity currency, and we’re going to start eliminating taxes, and then I want to start cutting back government red tape that makes it hard for people to pursue their dreams.”


QUESTION 4

Do you feel like the dominate two-party political system in the U.S. is broken? Yes or no, and why?

Dane Diehl (Republican)

Dane Diehl

“I don’t think it’s broken. I think we’re at a unique spot where the pendulum swings far, far right and far, far left. Being a Republican and being on the right, you know, I like it when it’s in our direction, but when it goes the other direction, people don’t like that. So, I don’t think it’s broken, I just think we are seeing extremes. I think that as a Republican base, we’re going do a lot of good things here, hopefully in November, not just in Missouri but nationwide, but I do not think it’s broken. I think that the middle ground might be a little bit choppier, but I still think that the Republican and Democrat two party system has a lot to offer, not only for Missourians, but all of us in the U.S.”

Robert Smith (Libertarian)

Robert Smith

“Yes, I do feel like the duopoly is broken, and the reason being is where we’re at today has affected both parties. It’s the same thing that my grandparents and my great-grandparents complained about. I have the same gripe today and we keep transitioning between Republican and Democrat, but nothing really ever changes when the Republicans have a trifecta in government; their promises go unfulfilled. Likewise with the Democrats when they have a trifecta in government, their campaign promises go unfulfilled and that’s all because they’re just manipulating us. They’re two wings on the same bird; they all take advantage of us and they all support big corporations and they give our money to big corporations. They bailed out the banks, they bailed out the car makers, they bailed out Wall Street and now they’re giving our money to big pharmaceuticals.”


For more information on each candidate’s campaign, you can visit their websites at the following links:

Dane Diehl

Robert Smith

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Oklahoma/Arkansas – states with lowest voter turnout last midterm cycle

KSNF/KODE — As the 2022 midterm elections approach, pundits, political organizers, and the general public alike are wondering the same thing: Will people actually turn out to vote on Nov. 8?

Stacker examined U.S. Census data to find which states had the lowest voter turnout in the 2018 midterm elections and investigated the factors impacting turnout. The Census measures voter turnout by calculating the percentage of voting-age citizens in each state who cast a ballot. In the event of a tie, the raw number of participating voters was used. However, not all citizens of voting age are eligible to vote; felony disenfranchisement laws, in particular, can alter the number of voting-age citizens who are actually able to cast a ballot.

Voter turnout at midterm elections is famously fickle. In most years, voter participation is significantly lower for midterm elections than for presidential elections. However, turnout during the most recent 2018 midterm cycle proved astonishingly high, jumping a full 11 percentage points from the previous midterm alone. Turnout can be difficult to predict, but this year, the prevalence of deeply polarizing issues such as abortion, gun control, and economic instability suggest that 2022 midterm turnout could be higher than usual. Understanding why turnout was higher than usual in 2018—as well as why some states lagged behind in voter participation—can offer insight into what to expect in the upcoming election.

Midterm elections take place every four years, halfway through the sitting president’s term. The entirety of the U.S. House and one-third of the Senate are up for election, as are many local and state-level positions. Despite unusually high turnout in the 2018 elections, some states’ voter turnout rates were significantly lower than the national average. Voter turnout can be impacted by a variety of factors, such as noncompetitive or low-profile races and disillusionment with the electoral process. Systemic barriers to voting also impact people’s ability to vote. The ability to vote easily has been shown in most cases to correlate with higher voter turnout, just as states with restrictive voting laws often see lower turnout rates.

Laws that impede people from voting easily include voter identification requirements, which require voters to provide a form of government ID in order to vote, voter registration deadlines far in advance of elections, and felony disenfranchisement laws, which prevent people serving felony sentences—and sometimes those who have already completed their sentences—from voting. Other measures, like complex absentee ballot processes, improper voter purging, and crackdowns on voter assistance, create more barriers to voter participation.

And some groups are more impacted by restrictive measures than others. In March 2022, the Biden administration released a report detailing the systemic barriers Native Americans face when trying to vote, including language barriers, limited access to polling places, and a lack of Indigenous representation in the electoral process. Black Americans are also disproportionately affected by voter suppression, in part through felony disenfranchisement laws that have their roots in a Jim Crow-era scheme to prevent Black Americans from voting. 

Despite the challenges, voting is one of the pillars on which democracy stands and is one of the most fundamental ways Americans can have their voices heard. Stacker is releasing this story as part of a project called Democracy Day, in which newsrooms across the country are drawing attention to the importance of protecting our democracy and the threats it currently faces.

Read on to see which states had the lowest voter turnout during the last midterm cycle.

US National Midterm Election Turnout – 2018

  • Citizens of voting age: 228.83M
    — Percent voted in 2018: 53.4%
    — Percent registered: 66.9%

Voter turnout in the 2018 midterms was historically high across the country, with more participation than in any other midterm election in over four decades. The jump is even more pronounced considering the 2014 midterms garnered infamously low turnout, with significant downturns in participation in highly populated states like New Jersey, New York, and California. More than half of voting-aged Americans turned out for the 2018 election, a stark turnaround from the roughly one-third who cast ballots in 2014.

The increase in voter turnout carried across racial and ethnic groups, with Latino voter turnout almost doubling between the 2014 and 2018 midterms. Reasons for the elevated turnout have been attributed to an intensified interest in voting—from both parties—due to the polarizing nature of the Trump administration and the many hot-button issues Americans were (and are) facing. Another factor impacting the 2018 midterm cycle was the record number of congressional Republicans who did not seek re-election. Since House incumbents win re-election at rates much higher than those not already in office, Democrats had an edge in that election cycle.

10. Oklahoma

  • Citizens of voting age: 2.73M
    — Percent voted in 2018: 49.4%
    — Percent registered: 65.1%

Republican candidates largely dominated Oklahoma’s 2018 midterm races, an unsurprising fact considering former President Donald Trump won every county in the state in the 2016 election. One major exception was Democrat Kendra Horn’s upset victory over two-term Republican incumbent Rep. Steve Russell. The closely watched congressional race took place in the state’s fifth district, which encompasses Oklahoma City, and had not seen a Democratic victory in over 40 years. Currently, Horn is the Democratic nominee running for retiring Sen. Jim Inhofe’s soon-to-be-vacant seat in Oklahoma’s 2022 special election.

Despite higher-than-usual voter turnout in Oklahoma’s 2018 midterms, the state’s turnout still ranks low compared to the rest of the country. Oklahoma’s restrictive voting legislation, which includes a voter identification law and a voter registration deadline that is 25 days before election day, creates barriers to voting. Efforts to implement online voter registration have stalled since 2015 due to outdated technology, resulting in voters being required to mail registration forms or deliver them in person. Online voter registration is commonplace in most of the U.S., with 42 states and Washington D.C. allowing it.

9. Indiana

  • Citizens of voting age: 4.79M
    — Percent voted in 2018: 49.3%
    — Percent registered: 65.3%

Voter turnout in Indiana’s 2018 midterms exceeded 2014’s numbers, despite some issues at several polling places in the state. Problems included malfunctioning voting machines and not enough paper ballots. In the county of Porter, a judge ordered 12 polling places to stay open later than planned after poll workers failed to show up, forcing them to open late. Indiana’s stringent voting laws have only become more restrictive since 2018.

In addition to the state’s long-standing voter ID laws, Indiana passed measures in 2019 to shorten the amount of time voters have to request an absentee ballot, and also tried to prohibit voters from requesting that a polling place stay open longer if there were issues there (this latter measure was later struck down by a federal judge). The state also resisted popular mail-in voting measures after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

One of the most closely watched races in Indiana’s 2018 midterms was the Senate contest between incumbent Democrat Joe Donnelly and Republican Mike Braun. Keeping Donnelly, a fairly conservative Democrat, in his Senate seat was crucial for the Democrats’ hopes of winning a Senate majority. Braun, a Trump-backed candidate, ultimately defeated Donnelly.

8. Nevada

  • Citizens of voting age: 3.77M
    — Percent voted in 2018: 48.7%
    — Percent registered: 64.5%

Several important races in Nevada attracted national attention, including close Senate and gubernatorial contests. Incumbent Republican Senator Dean Heller, whose initial anti-Trump stance flip-flopped when it came time to launch his reelection campaign, was defeated by Democrat Jacky Rosen. Democratic candidate Steve Sisolak also triumphed over his Republican opponent Adam Laxalt to become governor, replacing longtime Republican Gov. Brian Sandoval.

Voter turnout was unusually high for the swing state—with numbers more similar to the turnout for the 2016 presidential election than the 2014 midterm—though Nevada’s turnout is relatively low compared to the national average. In the time between the 2018 midterm elections and the upcoming midterm, however, the state expanded voter access by implementing automatic voter registration and same-day voter registration. Nevada also offers online voter registration.

7. South Carolina

  • Citizens of voting age: 2.07M
    — Percent voted in 2018: 48.7%
    — Percent registered: 61.8%

A prominent governor’s race in South Carolina’s midterm elections drew both local and national interest after former Gov. Nikki Haley was appointed to the role of U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, leaving her post open. Her former lieutenant governor, Republican Henry McMaster, defeated his Democratic challenger James Smith with the help of an endorsement from Trump. Both Trump and Joe Biden campaigned in South Carolina on behalf of their respective picks. Restrictive voting legislation has created barriers to voting in the state, including voter identification laws, prohibiting voter registration after 30 days prior to an election, and felony disenfranchisement laws. During the COVID-19 pandemic, South Carolina changed rules around absentee voting to expand mail-in voting access without requiring an excuse.

6. Texas

  • Citizens of voting age: 18.37M
    — Percent voted in 2018: 48.4%
    — Percent registered: 63.3%

The much-watched Senate race between Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke and Republican Sen. Ted Cruz galvanized Texas Democrats to put in more bids for office. Despite O’Rourke’s narrow loss, Democrats won some Republican strongholds in the House, and the competitive race helped prompt a significant increase in voter turnout. Despite the historic bump in voter participation, Texas still ranked low nationally for voter turnout, a position likely aided by highly restrictive voting legislation.

A 2020 analysis from Northern Illinois University found that Texas had the most restrictive voting processes of any state, making it the most difficult state to vote in. Restrictions include voter ID requirements, a voter registration deadline 30 days prior to election day, and inadequate voter materials provided in Spanish (a provision mandated by the Voting Rights Act). In 2021, a federal judge struck down several parts of a new Texas law that aimed to restrict voting access further. Among the provisions that violated the Voting Rights Act was one that would have limited assistance for voters for whom English was not their first language and for voters with disabilities.

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5. New Mexico

  • Citizens of voting age: 1.49M
    — Percent voted in 2018: 48.1%
    — Percent registered: 61.7%

New Mexico’s 2018 governor’s race saw Democratic Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham win against Republican Rep. Steve Pearce in an upset, making her the first Democratic Latina governor in U.S. history and the first Democratic governor of New Mexico since 2002. Lujan Grisham campaigned on a pro-immigration, clean energy platform that came down hard on President Trump’s policies. Democrats also flipped a formerly red House seat and won several statewide elections.

Since the 2018 midterm elections, Democrats have sought to expand voting access by implementing same-day voter registration and mailing absentee ballot applications to all eligible voters. However, barriers to voting persist, disproportionately impacting Indigenous communities and those convicted of felonies. In early 2022, lawmakers introduced a bill that would, if enacted, make Election Day a holiday and make voter registration easier, among other provisions.

4. Idaho

  • Citizens of voting age: 1.23M
    — Percent voted in 2018: 47.9%
    — Percent registered: 60.6%

Midterm races in Idaho did not attract much national attention due to a general lack of competition in the red state. The retirement of longtime Republican Gov. C.L. Otter left the governor’s seat open, a spot which Republican Brad Little won by a large margin. Republicans also dominated other races, winning control of both House seats, and the lieutenant governor and attorney general posts. In February 2022, Idaho House Republicans passed two bills outlining several voter restrictions, including one which, if passed by the Idaho Senate, would prohibit unaffiliated voters (roughly one-third of Idaho’s voters) from voting in the Republican primary. Another would outlaw delivering absentee ballots for other people, a measure that would disproportionately impact people with disabilities and working people. The two associated bills were defeated in the Senate one month later.

3. West Virginia

  • Citizens of voting age: 1.38M
    — Percent voted in 2018: 44.1%
    — Percent registered: 64.5%

The 2018 West Virginia Senate race saw conservative Democratic incumbent Sen. Joe Manchin III face off against Republican Patrick Morrisey, winning re-election in an increasingly red state. Manchin’s support for the National Rifle Association, coupled with his vote in favor of conservative Justice Brett Kavanaugh—his being the only Democratic vote—has earned him the reputation for being the most conservative Democrat in the Senate.

Barriers to voting in West Virginia include voter ID requirements and a 21-day deadline for registering to vote. Though automatic voter registration legislation was passed in 2016, its enactment remains delayed. During his 2016 campaign, West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner, a Republican, promoted an antisemitic conspiracy theory claiming that Jewish philanthropist George Soros was behind the automatic voter registration law and was using it to unlawfully register “more voters for the Democratic party,” according to The Associated Press.

2. Hawaii

  • Citizens of voting age: 971.0K
    — Percent voted in 2018: 44.0%
    — Percent registered: 53.9%

Hawaii’s 2018 midterm elections resembled most other elections in the state’s history: Democrats easily won nearly every race. But in spite of this electoral predictability—or, according to some political activists, because of it—Hawaii is reliably among the states with the lowest voter turnout. Though the state has enacted legislation that makes voting easier, including mailing ballots to all registered voters, automatic voter registration, and same-day voter registration, low voter participation has persisted. Native Hawaiians have historically been disenfranchised, most recently through felony disenfranchisement laws, as felony convictions in the state disproportionately impact Native Hawaiians. And while the vote-by-mail system gets ballots into the hands of those with stable living conditions, people experiencing homelessness are at a disadvantage when it comes to voter participation.

1. Arkansas

  • Citizens of voting age: 2.16M
    — Percent voted in 2018: 42.6%
    — Percent registered: 58.5%

Republican Gov. Asa Hutchinson won re-election in the 2018 Arkansas gubernatorial race against his opponent, Democrat Jared Henderson. Republicans also dominated other races, capturing all four House seats. The state with the lowest voter turnout in the 2018 midterm elections, Arkansas has restrictive voting laws in place that create barriers to voting, including voter identification requirements and a several-week voter registration deadline.

Furthermore, Arkansas rejected mailed-in ballots at the highest rate in the nation during the 2020 election, throwing out 6.4% of absentee ballots, compared to the national average of less than 1%. In 2022, several new measures aimed at further restricting voter access were challenged by voter rights groups in court. One measure so far was found to have violated the Voting Rights Act, according to a federal judge. The law limited in-person assistance to people casting ballots, a measure that disenfranchised people with disabilities and those with limited English proficiency.