Tennesseans Vote in Primaries on Thursday

GUBERNATORIAL, LEGISLATIVE, CONGRESSIONAL RACES AT STAKE

by Sharon Rondeau

The three stars on the flag of Tennessee represent the three distinct geographic regions of the state in the form of mountains, highlands and lowlands

(Aug. 7, 2014) — Primary elections for a U.S. Senate seat, state legislative seats, the governorship and county-level positions are being held today in Tennessee.

Polling stations opened at 8:00 a.m. and will close at 8:00 p.m. EDT.  The counties of East Tennessee are in the Eastern time zone, while Middle and West Tennessee counties are in the Central time zone.

Tennessee has “early voting,” which began on July 18 and ended on August 2.  Statistics to date show Republicans far outnumbering Democrats in most counties reporting.  Registered voters of the state are not restricted to voting for candidates of either major party.

U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander is facing challenges from State Rep. Joe Carr and four other Republican challengers. Alexander served two terms as Tennessee governor and is seeking a third consecutive term in the U.S. Senate.

Incumbent Gov. Bill Haslam and Alexander toured the state on Monday through Wednesday of this week for reported “Meet & Greet” sessions which one constituent from Athens described as unduly confrontational and a denial of his civil rights.  Haslam faces three Republican challengers.  Four Democrats, three Independents, a Constitution Party candidate and Green Party candidate are also running in the gubernatorial primary.

Haslam has taken no action on reported judicial misconduct over the last four years during which he has been governor.

Three Democrats are vying for the chance to face the Republican victor in the U.S. Senate primary in the general election on November 4.

Some incumbent members of the U.S. House of Representatives are primary candidates facing challengers.

The Watertown, WI Daily Times reports that in regard to elections for judges, “a well-funded campaign to oust state Supreme Court judges has brought rare attention to a normally routine part of the ballot.  A Republican group, led by Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey, is targeting three Democrat-appointed judges up for a yes-no “retention” election.  In Tennessee, the governor appoints justices and voters decide whether to keep them for full eight-year terms.  Even if one judge is rejected, it could give Republicans control of the highest court in Tennessee — an important change in the only state where Supreme Court justices pick the attorney general.”

The Daily Times referred to Article VI, Section 5 of the Tennessee constitution, which states that “An Attorney General and Reporter for the State, shall be appointed by the Judges of the Supreme Court and shall hold his office for a term of eight years.”

Ramsey’s office was unresponsive when The Post & Email has contacted him about judicial corruption in the state.  Over the last five years, The Post & Email has reported that Tennessee allows its criminal court judges to “pick” the foreman of the county grand jury, where the person so chosen wields undue influence over the 12 jurors selected as the law dictates.  Many foremen have remained in place for years or decades.

The “retention” law which allows the governor to appoint judges and then have voters decide whether to retain or eject them could be unconstitutional, as if the judge or judges are not retained, the governor appoints someone else, denying the voters an actual say in who serves on the state Supreme Court.  Article VI, Section 3 of the Tennessee constitution states that “The Judges of the Supreme Court shall be elected by the qualified voters of the State.”

The U.S. Justice Department will be observing primary elections in Shelby County, where an internal audit found that “dozens” of voter registration forms were not processed during a ten-month period from 2012 to 2013.

Unofficial election results are expected to be available on Thursday night at the Secretary of State’s website.

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