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.

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