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The Six States That Could Determine Whether Republicans Steal the 2024 Election

The right wing is intent on restricting the vote. How far will it go to hold onto power?

Midterm elections rarely get as much attention as a presidential contest. But the 2022 contests could decide whether future elections are conducted fairly, and whether they can proceed without being overturned by partisan actors. Over the past year, Republican state lawmakers, egged on by former President Donald Trump, passed a wave of voting restrictions. In the midterms, we’ll find out how far the party will go to hold power—particularly when voters want to give it to someone else. Look to these six states to divine the future of free elections in America.


Governor: Doug Ducey, a Republican, is term-limited; the next election is in 2022
Legislature: Republicans control both chambers
State Supreme Court: All seven justices were appointed by Republican governors
Elections administered by Secretary of State Katie Hobbs, a Democrat
Other key players: Kelli Ward, state GOP chair
Can they steal it? 6/10

Since 2020, Arizona’s attempts to restrict voting have not gone quite as far as those of other states, but, considering that Biden won here by just over 10,000 votes, even modest changes may have an outsize impact on turnout. Last May, when Governor Ducey signed a bill that abolished the state’s permanent list of early voters, he made it possible to remove Arizonans if they don’t regularly cast a ballot. Over the summer, a Supreme Court ruling upheld a series of restrictions on mail-in ballots that had been challenged by Democrats under the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Who runs Arizona’s elections will also shape the outcome of the midterms. Katie Hobbs, a Democrat who oversaw the 2020 election as secretary of state, is now challenging Ducey for the governorship. Her departure gives Republicans an opening to take control of a key state’s election machinery. To replace Hobbs, Donald Trump favors state Representative Mark Finchem, whom Trump has praised for “his incredibly powerful stance on the massive Voter Fraud that took place in the 2020 Presidential Election Scam.”


Governor: Brian Kemp, a Republican, is up for reelection in 2022
Legislature: Republicans control both chambers
State Supreme Court: Controlled by a conservative majority
Elections administered by the secretary of state, with significant legislative influence
Other key players: Stacey Abrams, a Democrat
Can they steal it? 8/10

Georgia has lately become a flashpoint for voting restrictions, and for good reason. In March 2021, a new law erected a medley of barriers. Georgian voters must now meet strict voter-ID requirements to request an absentee ballot, get less time to make the request, and will find fewer drop-off locations. Voting in person is harder too: In a state where some counties are plagued with long lines at precincts, it is now illegal to provide food or water to those waiting.

State and local election officials also face novel constraints. They can no longer send out absentee-ballot applications to all voters, as Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger did in 2020. They lost much of their discretion to extend the hours at polling places, to set up mobile voting centers, or, in certain larger counties, to expand early-voting hours. Some counties used to accept funds and donations from third-party groups to shore up their infrastructure and make voting more accessible; Georgia’s voting law now bans that practice.

No aspect of the new law is more sinister than its empowerment of the state legislature. In early 2021, Raffensperger resisted Trump’s pressure to “find 11,780 votes” and give him the state’s electoral votes. But the new law allowed Georgia’s Republican-led legislature to wrest control of the election board from the secretary of state, and opens more channels for partisan figures to warp the process. Perhaps most dangerously, state lawmakers can suspend local election officials at will, a power that seems destined to be used against election supervisors in large, majority-Black communities such as those in Fulton County.


Governor: Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, is up for reelection in 2022
Legislature: Republicans control both chambers
State Supreme Court: Split between four Democratic justices and three Republican justices
Elections administered by Michigan Secretary of State Jocelyn Benson, a Democrat
Other key players: Ron Weiser and Meshawn Maddock, co-chairs of the state GOP
Can they steal it? 3/10

With a Democratic governor and a Democratic secretary of state, Michigan’s Republican lawmakers happily have few opportunities to enact restrictions like those seen in Georgia or Texas. But they may have found a roundabout means of doing it anyway. Under the state constitution, a proposed law that collects enough signatures can be sent to the legislature for approval. If the legislature approves the proposal, it automatically becomes law. If not, it goes on the ballot for voter approval in the next election. Most important, the governor can’t veto legislation approved by the legislature under this method.

One of the proposed initiatives sought by a GOP-aligned group would enact a strict voter-ID law. It would also narrow access to absentee ballots and block state officials from sending absentee ballot applications to all eligible voters. Though the proposals aren’t as ambitious as in states where Republicans have complete control, they would be a step back from the system that in the last presidential election produced Michigan’s highest voter turnout on record.

Governor Whitmer vetoed similar measures when the legislature passed them through the normal process in 2021; the restrictions, she told lawmakers, “would disproportionately harm communities of color.” If conservative activists manage to collect roughly 340,000 signatures within a 180-day period, however, the proposals she vetoed could yet become law.


Governor: Tom Wolf, a Democrat, is term-limited; the next election is in 2022
Legislature: Republicans control both chambers
State Supreme Court: Populated by five Democratic justices and two Republican justices
Elections administered by Pennsylvania Secretary of the Commonwealth Leigh Chapman, a Democrat
Other key players: Pennsylvania Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman, a Republican
Can they steal it? 5/10

Like Michigan, Pennsylvania has a Democratic governor whose veto power limits the GOP’s ability to pass major voting restrictions. Given this, most of the Keystone State’s battles over election law are now taking place in the courts. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court heard oral arguments in March in a lawsuit that sought to overturn the state’s mail-in voting law. While a ruling may not come in time for the 2022 midterms, it will certainly arrive before the 2024 presidential election.

Another important legal battle in Pennsylvania revolves around redistricting—and an extraordinary legal theory that could have major implications for 2024. In February, two Republican congressional candidates asked the U.S. Supreme Court to block a new congressional map approved by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. They argued that the federal Constitution gives state legislatures the exclusive power to decide how to conduct federal elections and that state supreme courts can’t override it. If upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court, this theory, known as the “independent state legislature doctrine,” would allow state lawmakers to draft a wide variety of laws for congressional elections without fear of gubernatorial vetoes or state court reviews. And some have argued that it would give state lawmakers the power to ignore the outcome of a presidential race and appoint a slate of electors of their own choosing. In 2020, The Atlantic reported that Pennsylvania Republican leaders had discussed that option ahead of that year’s contest. One of those leaders, Jake Corman, is now running for governor.


Governor: Greg Abbott, a Republican, is up for reelection in 2022
Legislature: Republicans control both chambers
State Supreme Court: Controlled by nine Republican justices
Elections administered by Texas secretary of state and county judges
Other key players: Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, and Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo, a Democrat
Can they steal it? 9/10

In 2020, Texas went solidly for Donald Trump, but that didn’t stop the state’s Republican leaders from further restricting the vote. Last summer, GOP lawmakers passed a sweeping law that bans 24-hour and drive-through voting, two innovations adopted during the last presidential election by some large counties to reduce lines at polling places. Election officials, furthermore, can no longer send absentee ballot applications to all qualified voters.

There are already signs that the new hurdles are having an impact. In the 2020 election, officials rejected fewer than 1 percent of absentee ballots across the state. During the first round of the 2022 primaries, in March, that number jumped as high as 30 percent in the state’s most populous counties. More than 15,000 ballots were excluded—a small figure compared to previous elections, but potentially significant, because absentee voters tend to vote Democratic.

Some of the new law’s provisions, including one that gives partisan poll watchers more discretion to challenge an individual voter’s eligibility, appear destined to manufacture claims of fraud instead of reducing the likelihood of it.


Governor: Tony Evers, a Democrat, is up for reelection in 2022
Legislature: Republicans control both chambers
State Supreme Court: The court is officially nonpartisan, but has a 4–3 conservative-liberal split
Elections administered by Wisconsin Elections Commission
Other key players: Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, a Republican, and retired state Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman, also a Republican
Can they steal it? 4/10

Because Governor Evers has veto power and the state’s elections are run by a nonpartisan commission, Wisconsin Republicans haven’t been able to impose major restrictions over the last two years. But that hasn’t stopped them from undermining elections in other ways. Inspired by the widely criticized so-called audit of Arizona’s election results, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos announced that he would hire an investigator with taxpayer dollars to review the 2020 results. Outside organizations have scrutinized Wisconsin’s results and found no signs of tampering or mischief. Nevertheless, the 136-page report echoed points made by fringe far-right groups and accused state and local election officials of a wide variety of illegal activity. “I believe the legislature ought to take a very hard look at the option of decertification of the 2020 Wisconsin presidential election,” said retired state Supreme Court Justice Gableman.

Wisconsin Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, a Republican, denounced the report. “I will not be part of any effort, and will do everything possible to stop any effort, to put politicians in charge of deciding who wins or loses elections,” he said. Whether other GOP legislators in the Badger State will accept the results in 2024 if Biden wins again, however, is far from certain.