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State-level law enforcement units created after the 2020 presidential election to investigate voter fraud are looking into scattered complaints more than two weeks after the midterms but have provided no indication of systemic problems. That’s just what election experts had expected and led critics to suggest that the new units were more about politics than rooting out widespread abuses. Most election-related fraud cases already are investigated and prosecuted at the local level. The absence of widespread fraud is important because the lies surrounding the 2020 election spread by former President Donald Trump and his allies have penetrated deeply into the Republican Party and eroded trust in elections.

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Fears of aggressive poll watchers sowing chaos at polling stations or conservative groups trying to intimidate votes didn't materialize on Election Day as many election officials and voting rights experts had feared. Voting proceeded smoothly across most of the U.S., with a few exceptions of scattered disruptions. There were no clear indications that new voting laws in some Republican-leaning states disenfranchised voters on a wide scale. Overall, Election Day went better than many expected. But groups focused on threats to American democracy say the biggest challenge is still ahead: the 2024 presidential race.

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Voters deciding to split their tickets or buck their party altogether may have helped Democrats mount a stronger-than-expected performance in the recent midterm elections. AP VoteCast is an extensive survey of this year’s electorate. The survey underscores how voters were selective in their choices despite today’s starkly polarized political climate. Party preferences aside, they often rewarded candidates seen as mainstream while rejecting those viewed as too extreme.

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Republicans are engaged in a round of finger-pointing as both parties sift through the results of Democrats’ stronger-than-expected showing in the midterm elections. But the recriminations obscure a much deeper dilemma for the party. Many of their nominees failed to raise the money needed to mount competitive campaigns. That forced party leaders, particularly in the Senate, to triage resources to races where they thought they had the best chance at winning. The lackluster fundraising allowed Democrats to get their message out to voters early and unchallenged, while GOP contenders lacked the resources to do the same.

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Certification of this year’s midterm election results appears to be proceeding smoothly and with little controversy across the country, save for one hiccup in a rural Arizona county. That has calmed fears that local commissions consumed by talk of election conspiracies would create chaos by refusing to validate the will of the voters. Certifications were happening even in places where suspicions about the fairness of elections ran deep and led to bitter clashes at local public meetings, including Nevada and New Mexico. But in Arizona's Cochise County, the county board delayed accepting the results after hearing from conspiracy theorists, ignoring the state's top election official.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi says she won't seek a leadership role in the new Congress. Pelosi’s decision Thursday comes after Democrats lost the House majority to Republicans in the midterm elections and after the brutal attack on her husband, Paul, by an intruder at their San Francisco home. Pelosi’s decision makes way for a new generation of House Democratic leaders. She plans to stay on as a member of Congress, having won reelection from her California district. Pelosi is the first and only woman to serve as speaker, breaking what she called the “marble ceiling.” She led passage of the Affordable Care Act with President Barack Obama and twice impeached President Donald Trump.

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Republicans have won control of the U.S. House. A call by The Associated Press on Wednesday for Republican Mike Garcia in California’s 27th District secured the party the 218 seats needed for the majority. The release of thousands of votes in the 27th District allowed the AP to determine that not enough votes were outstanding for Democratic challenger Christy Smith to overtake Garcia. It took more than a week after the Nov. 8 midterm elections for Republicans to reach the minimum 218 seats needed to flip the House from Democratic control for the next Congress.

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President Joe Biden took an around-the-world victory lap after this month's midterm election, where Democrats showed surprising strength in holding back Republicans. He visited Egypt, Cambodia and Indonesia to push for stronger action on climate change, closer economic ties in Asia and greater condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He also managed a potential crisis over the Ukraine war when a missile landed in neighboring Poland, killing two people. While Donald Trump launched a comeback bid, Biden brushed it off. “At this critical moment,” he said, "no nation is better positioned to help build the future we want than the United States of America.”

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Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky has been reelected as Republican leader, quashing a challenge from Sen. Rick Scott of Florida. Scott was the Senate GOP campaign chief, and he has been criticized over his party’s midterm election failures. Republican senators reelected McConnell on Wednesday by a vote of 37-10, with one other senator voting present. After the vote, McConnell said he's “proud” to be reelected. He's poised to become the longest-serving leader when the new Congress convenes in the new year. Scott's challenge came amid fallout from the midterms, when Republicans failed to take the Senate majority.