elections

Election officials to legislators: No major problem with voting fraud in TN — for now

At a Senate State and Local Government Committee hearing Tuesday, Tennessee election officials tried to allay legislator fears that the state’s voting records are vulnerable to hacking, reports WPLN. At the same time, they acknowledged there’s a significant risk that outside groups could try to disrupt future elections.

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Pody wins Senate District 17 seat by 308 votes (updated with comments)

Republican state Rep. Mark Pody defeated Democrat Mary Alice Carfi by about 300 votes in a special election Tuesday — according to unofficial returns — to fill the state Senate District 17 seat vacated by former Sen. Mae Beavers, R-Mount Juliet. Pody is a longtime friend and ally of Beavers.

From the Lebanon Democrat:

Pody received 5,990 votes in District 17, while Carfi received 5,682. Pody won in Cannon, Macon and Wilson counties, while Carfi won in Clay, DeKalb and Smith counties. Four of the six counties were decided by 3 percent or fewer votes. The largest difference came from Macon County, where Pody won 64.26 percent to Carfi’s 35.74 percent.

“This was a team effort,” said Pody. “I want to thank everybody who worked for my campaign, but most of all I want to thank God, because without Him, I don’t get this win.”

According to Wilson County Administrator of Elections Phillip Warren, there are 13 provisional ballots in Wilson County, and he expects a similar number from other counties, which wouldn’t be enough to change the outcome. The election will be certified Dec. 28, and the provisional votes will be counted then.

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Early vote turnout light in Senate District 17 special election

A total of just 5,295 early votes were cast in the state Senate District 17 special election contest between Republican Mark Pody nd Democrat Mary Alice Carfi, according to the state Division of Elections. Election day is Tuesday with Pody, currently a state representative, a heavy favorite – but Democrats are hoping Mt. Juliet attorney Carfi can pull off an upset in the seat vacated by Sen. Mae Beavers, who is running for governor.

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Dates set for special election to replace Sen. Jim Tracy

Gov. Bill Haslam has scheduled a special primary election for the state Senate District 14 seat vacated by Republican Sen. Jim Tracy for Jan. 25 with the general election on March 13.

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VA doctor accused of violating Hatch Act as 2014 TN candidate for U.S. Senate

A Veterans Affairs doctor is accused of violating the federal Hatch Act during a failed 2014 campaign to unseat Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander, including promoting his campaign during visits with at least one patient, reports The Tennessean.

Choudhury Salekin violated the act 15 times, according to a release from the Office of Special Counsel (see below)…. It could not immediately be confirmed if Salekin was still working at the Murfreesboro VA facility. A message left for Salekin seeking comment was not immediately returned Wednesday evening.

Note: Salekin, one of eight independent candidates on the ballot, received 787 votes statewide in the Nov. 4, 2014 general election – won by Alexander with 850,087 votes with Democrat Gordon Ball runnerup with 437,848 votes, according to official returns posted on the Division of Election website.

Press release from U.S. Office of Special Counsel

The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) has filed a complaint for disciplinary action with the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) against a Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) doctor, charging him with 15 counts of violating the Hatch Act.

While an employee of the VA’s Tennessee Valley Healthcare System (in Murfreesboro), the doctor ran as an independent candidate in the 2014 partisan election for the office of U.S. senator from Tennessee. According to OSC, the doctor promoted his candidacy by distributing business cards featuring the VA’s official seal and touting his campaign video, which was available on his campaign website and on YouTube.

The video included a testimonial from a patient he had treated at the VA. OSC also alleges that the doctor encouraged several VA colleagues and at least one patient – during a medical consultation – to watch his campaign video. He also solicited campaign contributions both online and in person and invited at least one patient, also during a medical consultation, to a campaign event.

The Hatch Act generally prohibits federal employees from being candidates in partisan elections – even as independent candidates – and from knowingly soliciting, accepting, or receiving political contributions from any person, at any time. The Hatch Act also prohibits employees from using their official influence as government employees to affect the result of an election. Finally, federal employees may not engage in any political activity while on duty or in the federal workplace.

According to OSC’s November 17, 2017, complaint, the VA doctor had received guidance from the VA’s acting general counsel outlining each of the Hatch Act’s restrictions.

OSC’s complaint asks the MSPB to find that the doctor engaged in prohibited political activity as charged and to order appropriate disciplinary action. Penalties for Hatch Act violations range from reprimand or suspension to removal and debarment from federal employment.

“Federal employees should remember their restrictions under the Hatch Act,” Special Counsel Henry J. Kerner said. “Those who have questions should contact the Office of Special Counsel or their relevant agency officials for advice.”

…The U.S. Office of Special Counsel (OSC) is an independent federal investigative and prosecutorial agency. Our basic authorities come from four federal statutes: the Civil Service Reform Act, the Whistleblower Protection Act, the Hatch Act, and the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act. OSC’s primary mission is to safeguard the merit system by protecting federal employees and applicants from prohibited personnel practices, especially whistleblower retaliation, and to serve as a safe channel for allegations of wrongdoing. For more information, please visit our website at www.osc.gov.

Rogero credited with paving the way to majority rule by women in Knoxville government

Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero won’t say so out loud, but her election in 2011 and the efforts of a group called Women’s March Knoxville, helped pave the way for a transformation of city government in last week’s Knoxville elections, according to the News Sentinel.

For the first time in city history, four women will sit on the council. With Rogero included, the city’s representation will be five men, five women.

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Tracy resigns, triggering special election in Senate District 14

News release from Lt. Gov. Randy McNally’s office

NASHVILLE — Senator Jim Tracy (R-Shelbyville) today announced he has resigned as Senator of the 14th District and Speaker Pro Tempore of the Senate effective immediately. President Donald Trump appointed Tracy to the position of Tennessee State Director for Rural Development late Friday. Tracy has accepted the appointment and under the Tennessee Constitution is required to relinquish his Senate seat.

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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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