On the gridiron, it takes a team to win, and some elected officials around the South are looking to band together rather than brawl over the 2016 presidential primaries. Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp is among those pushing a regional March 1, 2016 contest known as the “SEC Primary,” named after the Southeastern Conference and would include states like Georgia, Tennessee, Arkansas and Mississippi and possibly Alabama and Louisiana. “As someone who went to the University of Georgia and lives in Athens and understands how powerful the Southeastern Conference is in football today, that is exactly what we want to be when it comes to presidential politics,” Kemp said. Although the state primaries would be held for each party, much of the focus would be on the large group of Republican presidential contenders expected to vie for the nomination.
A Democratic group says it will file a formal complaint with federal regulators against three Republican organizations after a CNN investigation revealed that they shared internal polling data before the midterm elections by posting the information on anonymous Twitter accounts. The liberal advocacy group American Democracy Legal Fund alleged in a complaint meant to be filed Monday to the Federal Election Commission that the National Republican Congressional Committee, the American Action Network and American Crossroads broke federal rules that prohibit coordination between campaign committees and outside groups. “The NRCC and outside groups appear to have engaged in illegal coordination through sharing internal polling data,” according to the complaint, which was provided to CNN by American Democracy Legal Fund. “By hiding their communications on a public website, Respondents intentionally tried to create a loophole in the coordination rules. Such an intentional effort to knowingly flout campaign finance laws cannot be condoned.”
The fight to count some, if not all, of the 479 rejected provisional ballots cast in Congressional District 2 continues here in Pima County, with all indications it is headed for the courtroom. Legal teams representing the Ron Barber and Martha McSally campaigns have flooded the Pima County Recorder’s Office, making more than two dozen requests for public documents. Attorneys are also calling those who cast provisional ballots, asking them to offer up their stories that led to their ballots being rejected, and to sign declarations, likely to be used in future legal proceedings. Both campaigns have refused to discuss their legal strategies. But the requests seem to have set the stage that both sides are at least preparing to file legal challenges in Pima County. The requests have created a near constant din in County Recorder F. Ann Rodriguez’s offices as her staff moves boxes, shuffles paperwork and feeds copiers to comply with the mounting requests.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Ron Barber filed suit in U.S. District Court Monday, seeking to count the ballots of 133 voters his campaign contends were disenfranchised in the congressional race against Republican Martha McSally. McSally has a razor-thin lead of 161 votes, out of more than 219,000 cast in the 2nd District race. A recount is scheduled for after Dec. 1, but it will be delayed if Barber’s legal challenge is heard by the courts. The lawsuit seeks a temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction to stop the state from certifying the results of the election on Dec. 1, less than a week away. Rodd McLeod, a campaign consultant for Barber, said a time or place for the hearing has not been set. Pima and Cochise counties last week rejected calls from the Barber campaign to delay certifying votes in those counties and examine disputed ballots. Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett and the Pima and Cochise boards of supervisors are named in the suit, along with “all those acting in concert with them or under their direction.”
As expected, Gov. Rick Scott on Monday ordered a special election for the vacant seat in Florida’s House District 64 for Hillsborough and Pinellas counties. The special primary election will be Feb. 10, with a special general election set for April 21. That means nearly 158,000 district residents won’t have representation in the state House of Representatives for the bulk of next year’s legislative session, which runs March 3-May 1. The move also potentially resets the field, with a new – though abbreviated – round of candidate qualifying set for 8 a.m. Dec. 15-noon Dec. 16. The previous incumbent, Republican Jamie Grant, on Monday said he will again file to run. He’s represented the district, covering northwest Hillsborough and eastern Pinellas, since 2010. His GOP challenger, Tampa engineer Miriam Steinberg, was less sure she would run again. In non-binding Nov. 4 results, Grant had won with 59.5 percent of the vote.
A legislative committee is looking into changing the way municipal elections are conducted in Kansas to boost turnout. Rep. Steve Huebert, R-Valley Center, believes it’s time to abandon the system of holding city and school board races on a different cycle than federal and state races. He wants to combine municipal elections with higher-profile November races that generate larger turnout, the Lawrence Journal-World reported. “Plain and simple, turnout for the current system is pitiful, and it gets worse every two years,” Huebert said. “We need to either figure out a way to increase turnout for the current system or move the elections.” In the past five years, at least 10 municipal election bills have been offered. Some have proposed merging municipal races with state and federal races in even-numbered years while others have proposed holding them in November of odd-numbered years. And some have even proposed making them partisan races.
Statewide vote totals released Monday show an Oregon ballot measure that would require labeling of genetically modified foods was losing by a mere 809 votes and will go to an automatic recount. Results from all 36 counties three weeks after Election Day showed Measure 92 was defeated by a margin of only 0.06 percentage point, well under the 0.2 percent threshold for a recount. A hand tally of ballots is likely to begin the first week in December after Secretary of State Kate Brown certifies the election results, formally triggering the recount. Oregon is the fourth state in the West to reject a labeling requirement for genetically modified foods, but it was the closest tally yet. “Regardless of what the final outcome of this race is, this is a very encouraging sign for those of us who support labeling of genetically engineered foods,” said Sandeep Kaushik, a spokesman for the campaign promoting the measure. Machine counts are subject to a small margin of error, Kaushik said, and with such a razor-thin vote difference, “there is a plausible possibility that the outcome of this race will change.”
The Texas Legislature will start the 2015 session with a handful of empty chairs and unfinished elections. State Senator Glenn Hegar, a Republican, was elected state comptroller of public accounts, and Mayor Julián Castro of San Antonio resigned after President Obama appointed him to be secretary of housing and urban development. Let the spree begin. State Senator Leticia Van de Putte, D-San Antonio, having lost the race for lieutenant governor, is running for mayor of her hometown. Representative Mike Villarreal, D-San Antonio, was just elected to another term in the House but wants the job Van de Putte is seeking. Representative Lois Kolkhorst, a Republican who also won re-election, is running for Hegar’s Senate seat. Representatives José Menéndez and Trey Martinez Fischer, both San Antonio Democrats, are eyeing Van de Putte’s Senate seat.
Election officials say that almost 800 Virginia voters cast provisional ballots on the Nov. 4 elections because they lacked valid identification under the state’s new photo ID law. “Localities are still entering provisional ballot information into the system, but so far, about half of these ballots were accepted and half rejected,” Edgardo Cortés, commissioner of the Virginia Department of Elections, said at a meeting of the State Board of Elections in Richmond on Monday. Cortés also called for a full review of the status of voting equipment in the state, following reports of malfunctions on Election Day in almost a dozen localities statewide. In Virginia Beach, several touch-screen voting machines were taken out of service after recording votes intended for Rep. Scott Rigell, R-2nd, as votes for his Democratic opponent Suzanne Patrick. Cortés said Monday that foul play was an unlikely cause for the malfunctions.
Bahrainis have voted in legislative elections, the first since 2011 street protests, but the Shia opposition that led the pro-democracy movement did not take part in the vote. The government kept polling centres open for two more hours than planned, until 19:00 GMT, due to the massive voter turnout. The turnout is no more than 30 percent and 80 percent of the voters are military and government personnel in the security and public sector. Sheikh Ali Salman, general secretary of the Al-Wefaq National Islamic Society The Gulf state’s electorate of almost 350,000 were called to choose 40 deputies, with most of the 266 candidates being Sunnis. Al-Wefaq, the main opposition group, warned that failure by the kingdom’s rulers to loosen their grip on power could trigger a surge in violence.
”The election results announced by the National Electoral Commission are untrue, unreliable, so as not to use the word ‘falsified’,” Kaczynski said on Sunday, after the Saturday night release of results for Poland’s regional assemblies. Of the two largest parties, an exit poll on 16 November had given Law and Justice 31.5 percent of the vote, while Prime Minister Ewa Kopacz’s Civic Platform was forecast to garner 27.3 percent. However, following chronic delays as a result of computer glitches, the official results gave Law and Justice 26.85 percent, and Civic Platform 26.36 percent.
Officials from the Solomon Islands Electoral Commission have declared the final results of last week’s landmark polls. The November 19 election was the country’s first since an Australian-led peacekeeping operation transitioned to a police-focused mission last year. Philothea Ruaeho, a spokeswoman for the electoral commission, said the final results for all the constituencies had been declared by the governor-general. Independent candidates were the biggest winners, securing 32 seats in the 50-seat parliament. With no dominant political party emerging, the members were expected to travel to the capital, Honiara, to begin negotiations on a coalition government. The newly-elected MPs will also choose the country’s next prime minister.
Tunisia’s presidential election is poised to enter a hotly contested runoff vote next month, after unofficial results showed the interim president faring better than expected against the candidate widely tipped to win. Moncef Marzouki, who was voted in as interim president in 2011 by the Constituent Assembly, appeared to have secured between 32% and 35% of Sunday’s vote, according to a tabulation released on Monday by a respected Tunisian election monitoring group, Mourakiboun. Mr. Marzouki, a human-rights activist and longtime dissident during the autocratic regime of Zine El Abidine Ben Ali, was seen as the only candidate who could pose a challenge to favorite Beji Caid Essebsi, but few observers believed he could garner such a high percentage of the vote. He was believed to have been weakened by the slow and often turbulent transition in Tunisia since a popular uprising unseated Mr. Ben Ali in 2011.
Congratulations Tunisia! No matter who is officially announced as the winner in a few days’ time, the second peaceful vote in four weeks has shown that this country is headed in the right direction – and it looks like it’s the only one in the Arab region. Libya is falling apart in a clan war, Syria is embroiled in a civil war, Egypt has reverted to a military dictatorship and Yemen is sinking into chaos. Only one small nation in North Africa got its act together, and that’s Tunisia. The appalling example of its Arab neighbors may have helped: almost everyone in Tunis has recognized the value of compromise for a democracy, even Tunisia’s moderate Ennahda Islamists. They realized, though late, that they can’t push through their idea of an Islamic state with a supreme religious authority in Tunisia any time soon.