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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

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Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Close U. S. House Race In Tennessee

First-term congressman David Davis apparently lost Thursday's Tennessee Republican primary by 500 votes out of more than 51,000 cast. Mountainous east Tennessee has been a Republican stronghold since before the Civil War; in fact, since the 1930s, the winner of every Republican primary for the U. S. House there has also won the general election.

Davis said that absentee ballots that had not yet been delivered might put him over the top. An election official, however, indicated that such ballots must have arrived by primary day in order to be counted.

Also, according to The Greeneville Sun, "... Davis said... that a Tennessee law exists which states that if a person consistently votes in one party's primary elections, and then switches to another party's primary, 'that vote can be challenged.'

"Davis added that he is aware of 'anecdotal evidence that Democrats switched over in several counties' in Thursday's election..."

This sounds similar to a Mississippi law which was enacted in 1987, and which has almost never been invoked. This law says that anyone voting in a party primary must support all of that party's nominees in the general election. Since it's a secret ballot, that provision, of course, is unenforceable.

"[Brook Thompson, state coordinator of elections] stated, 'The process is to challenge them at the polls on election day.'

"An election-day challenge would involve poll-watchers who, based on their own knowledge, could challenge someone who has always voted in one party's primary when that person suddenly seeks to vote in the other party's primary.

"'It doesn't happen very often at all,' Thompson said. 'That's the law I'm sure he's referring to.'"

"The state coordinator said the law allows for challenges on election day, but not afterward, adding, 'I don't know of any election that has been challenged after the fact based on that law.'"

Rep. Davis doesn't seem to be leaning toward asking for a recount.

Not only does Tennessee not register voters by party, but it also does not have runoff (or second) primaries. In 2006, Davis won the Republican primary over 12 opponents with 22 percent of the vote.

The Hill has an article on Thursday's Republican primary for the U. S. House.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stevie, are you implying Tennessee and Tennesseans are backward, behind the times?
Of course you're right.
Tennessee also has the second lowest voter turnout of the 50 states.
Of course some of that might be because of the low quality of the candidates.
And some might be because the so-called "news" media do such a poor job of informing those potential voters.
And some might be because the government schools do such a poor job of educating those potential voters.
The result is a very poor collection of office-holders, with the exception of Second District U.S. Rep. John Duncan.
He might not be perfect, but he is way ahead of, say, Third District U.S. Rep. Zach Wamp (rhymes with swamp).
Anyway, you are, as usual, right and Tennessee -- and everybody else -- ought to have run-offs.
Michael Morrison

Wed Aug 13, 10:15:00 PM CDT  
Blogger Steve Rankin said...

My main purpose in this post, Michael, was to call attention to Tennessee's primary "challenge" law, not to criticize that state.

Actually, only 10 states now have party runoff (or second) primaries. One of the 10 is Kentucky, which only has the provision for the office of governor, and which will likely eliminate it before the next election.

Another of the 10 is Louisiana, which does not have party primaries for its state and local elections. So that state only has second primaries in congressional elections.

Thu Aug 14, 08:00:00 PM CDT  

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