elections

TN Supremes decide election lawsuit with 3-2 vote

News release from Administrative Office of the Courts

Nashville, Tenn. – In a case involving a 2014 election for circuit court judge in East Tennessee, the Tennessee Supreme Court has rejected the unsuccessful candidate’s claim that the Roane County Election Commission (“Commission”) had no authority under Tennessee law to decide a pre-election challenge to the successful candidate’s residency qualifications to run for the office.

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Special election dates set for Senate District 17

Gov. Bill Haslam has set Nov. 7 as the date for a special primary election in state Senate District 17, where Sen. Mae Beavers has resigned while running for the Republican gubernatorial nomination. The general election date is Dec. 19.

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Three charged with election law violations in Bluff City

News release from Tennessee Bureau of Investigation

JOHNSON CITY – An investigation by Special Agents with the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has resulted in three Bluff City residents being charged with violating an election law.

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Republican Vaughan wins House District 95 special election

Republican Kevin Vaughan defeated Democrat Julie Byrd Ashworth with 62 percent of the vote to win a special election Thursday for state House District 95, vacated by former Republican Rep. Mark Lovell after he was accused of sexual harassment.

Vaughan, a business owner and member of the Collierville school board, had 3,099 votes to 1,737 for Ashworth, an attorney, according to the Shelby County Election Commission.

There were two independent as well. Robert Schutt got 143 votes and Jim Tomasik 25. And there were three write-in votes.

Since Vaughan replaces fellow Republican Lovell, who resigned in February, the state House’s partisan alignment remains the same as it was at the outset of the 110th General Assembly – 74 Republicans, 25 Democrats.

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Collierville school board member wins GOP nomination in House District 95

Collierville Schools board member Kevin Vaughan won the Republican primary election for state House District 95 by 49 votes over former Germantown alderman Frank Uhlhorn, reports the Memphis Daily News.

The unofficial results show Collierville alderman Bill Patton running third in the seven candidate contest. (Vaughan had 1,066 votes; Uhlhorn 1,017. Full results on Shelby County Election Commission website, HERE.)

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Low turnout in House District 95 early voting

Only 2,535 people cast ballots in early voting on choosing a successor to former state Rep. Mark Lovell, Shelby County Election Administrator Linda Phillips tells the Commercial Appeal. That’s 4.9 percent of registered voters in House District 95.

Of those voting early, 2,313 voted in the Republican primary and just 222 in the Democratic primary.

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Increase in assaults at UT linked to election emotions

Assault reports at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville more than doubled in 2016 and officials say the presidential election may be a factor, reports The Tennessean.

Sixty-four assaults were reported at UT in 2016 compared to 28 in 2015, according to an annual log of campus crime released Thursday by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation. (Previous post HERE.) In an email, Lt. Mike Richardson with UT police teased a possible connection with the unusually close and controversial campaign.

“Assaults many times are driven by emotion,” Richardson wrote in an email. “2016 was a year that involved a very (contentious) election season, which involved numerous protests in many forms and involved heightened emotion on both sides. We cannot say specifically…every incident was related to this cause, but this could give a reason for such increases.”

UT saw its assault numbers jump higher than most other colleges, but there was an increase statewide. Campuses across Tennessee reported a 21 percent increase in assaults, with 794 assaults reported in 2016 and 657 reported in 2015.

Ten file qualifying papers in House District 95

Seven Republicans, one Democrat and two independent candidates filed qualifying petitions by Thursday’s deadline to seek the House District 95 seat in Shelby County vacated by former Rep. Mark Lovell, R-Eads, after he was accused of sexual harassment, reports the Commercial Appeal.

Candidates can withdraw their petitions until March 20. The primary election will be April 27, a Thursday, to be followed by a general election on June 15.

The Shelby County Election Commission received qualifying petitions from the following Republican candidates: Keep Tennessee Beautiful Executive Director Melissa “Missy” Marshall of Collierville; Collierville School Board member Kevin Vaughan; Collierville Alderman Billy Patton; Germantown Alderman Frank Uhlhorn; attorney Joseph Crone of Eads; attorney Gail Williams Horner of Collierville; and Curtis D. Loynachan of Collierville.

Democrat Julie Byrd Ashworth of Collierville and independents Jim Tomasik of Cordova and Robert Paul Schutt of Eads also qualified for the race. Tomasik doesn’t currently live in the district but has until the special general election to move his residency.

Although he received a petition, Republican John Bogan did not file his by the deadline. Republican Diane George, who placed third in the 2016 election behind Lovell and incumbent Curry Todd, did not file a petition even though she was quick to express interest in the seat after Lovell’s resignation.

… Some of the qualifying candidates may aim for a Shelby County Board of Commissioners appointment to fill the seat in the short interim. The commission will accept applications March 21-27 for the interim position and is slated to pick an applicant April 3, although some commissioners — Terry Roland, most vocally — have argued the legislative session will probably end before the appointment.

Still, in case the session goes long, several commissioners say they want to appoint someone who will oppose a controversial voucher bill sponsored by Sen. Brian Kelsey.

The debate over the appointment will continue in the commission’s 3:30 p.m. meeting March 20. The deadline to withdraw from the election is noon Monday.

Note: The Shelby County Election Commission news release is HERE.

Interim appointment, special election set to pick new state rep

The Shelby County Commission has set April 3 as the date for a meeting to choose a temporary successor to state Rep. Mark Lovell, who resigned after being accused of sexual harassment, and Gov. Bill Haslam has set later dates for two special elections in the House District 95 seat.

The governor’s writ of election, issued Thursday, sets the primary special election for April 27 and the general election for June 15. There will be a 15-day early voting period preceding both.

The district is considered strongly Republican. Lovell, a Republican, defeated longtime Republican Rep. Curry Todd in the August, 2016, GOP primary.

County commissioners say they’ve heard from “dozens” of people interested in seeking appointment to the position on an interim basis, according to WREG-TV. The interim appointee, of course, can then run in the special elections to keep the seat on a full-time basis.

County commissioners say they’ve heard from “dozens” of people interested in seeking appointment to the position on an interim basis, according to WREG-TV. The interim appointee, of course, can then run in the special elections to keep the seat on a full-time basis.

TN electors ignore protesters to cast votes for Trump

Tennessee’s 11 Electoral College votes all went to Republican Donald Trump today despite calls from protesters to ignore a state requirement to support the candidate who wins the popular vote, reports Andy Sher.

Republican electors here said they had been blitzed by thousands of letters, emails and phone calls, some of them threatening and nearly all from out-of-state groups aiming to deny an expected Electoral College victory by Trump.

But Tennessee’s vote was not without some side drama. Protesters in the state Capitol’s House gallery twice interrupted proceedings. One woman shouted Trump was “nuts,” prompting state Election Coordinator Mark Goins to bang his gavel and demand order. She was escorted out.

A man later sought to read a Bible verse, prompting Goins to tell him: “We certainly appreciate the Scripture, but this is a procedure the Electoral College can only proceed in. The answer is no.”

On Election Day in Tennessee, Trump won 1,522,925 votes while Democrat Hillary Clinton garnered 870,960.

Republican Gov. Bill Haslam presided over portions of the meeting.

“Donald Trump has been elected president of the United States; I want to do everything I can to make him and Mike Pence be successful in that role,” Haslam said.

“While some people don’t like the result, and obviously, we had protesters today who didn’t like that, ultimately, you have to love the process that we’re a part of in this country,” he added. “It’s the best process there is.”

Note: Nationally, seven electors voted against their state mandates, a record number of so-called “faithless” electors, reports Politico. The previous record was set in 1808 when six electors refused to vote for James Madison.

ABOUT THIS BLOG

Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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