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News about: elections, politicians and candidates at all levels of government: elections, congress, state executive officials, state legislatures, recall elections, ballot measures and school boards. You can find a full list of projects here.

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The Tuesday Count: New York's not-so-independent redistricting commission amendment

Edited by Ryan Byrne

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After a prominent controversy in 2013, New York state is, once again, at the center of the debate on the accuracy and importance of ballot measure language. Proposal 1 of 2014, also known as the Redistricting Commission Amendment, stated, "The proposed amendment establishes an independent redistricting commission..." Judge Patrick McGrath objected, saying there is nothing independent about the proposed commission, and that even the two non-legislatively picked members are "essentially political appointees by proxy."[1]

Meanwhile, Berkeley, California's proposed soda tax is coming under fire by the American Beverage Association, whose members include Coca-Cola and PepsiCo. The association contributed $500,000 to the campaign against the measure, the largest single contribution in the city's history.[2]


State Legislative Tracker: Convicted California senator resigns

Edited by Joel Williams
This week’s tracker includes a look at the conviction and resignation of a California senator.


Obama announces U.S. aid for Ebola outbreak

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President Barack Obama addressed the nation about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa on September 16, 2014.
By Phil Heidenreich

Atlanta, Georgia: President Barack Obama announced the deployment of 3,000 military personnel and requested $500 million in aid to West African countries for the containment of the most deadly Ebola virus outbreak in history.[3][4]

In addition to the military aid, the president promised an "air bridge," of open transportation between the affected area and the United States through which supplies could be sent to West Africa.[5] The administration also planned the building of 17 100-bed hospitals to be used to treat more patients, training of 500 more West African medical care professionals per week as well as providing local African populations basic health kits.[6] The $500 million was requested from the Overseas Contingency Operation meaning Congress has the ability to object but does not need to pass legislation approving the funding.[4]

A map of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa as of September 13, 2014
Only two American citizens have been infected by the Ebola virus while serving with religious organizations in Africa. Nancy Writebol and Dr. Kent Brantly were flown back to the U.S. under quarantine and treated for the virus, both surviving.[7] Dr. Brantly then testified before Congress regarding the disease, conditions in Africa and the need for action. He also stated his desire to return to help those still infected, "Lord willing."[8]

In March 2014, medical experts announced an outbreak of the virus in Guinea, which killed 78 people between January and April 2014.[9] In the following months, the virus spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia in what the World Health Organization (WHO) described could result in more than 20,000 deaths.[10][11] By June 2014, the outbreak had become the deadliest Ebola outbreak on record. By the end of August 2014, the outbreak had spread to Nigeria and Senegal.[12] Numerous African countries have shut down borders and halted international travel as a precaution against the virus.[13]


Arkansas school board challengers unseat three incumbents

By Margaret Koenig

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While only a few races were contested in the Tuesday elections for seven of the largest Arkansas school districts, those races did not end well for most incumbents. In the five contested races, only two incumbents were able to retain their seats.

Incumbent Willie Cowgur defeated Kirsten Johnston in the race for Zone 4 of Bentonville School District's Board of Education. Zone 5 incumbent Lisa Clark, however, was unseated by former board member Travis Riggs. Neither of the Little Rock School District Board of Education incumbents retained their seats. Joy C. Springer unseated first-term Zone 1 incumbent Norma Jean Johnson, while Zone 5 incumbent Jody Carreiro lost to Jim Ross. Springdale Public Schools Zone 3 incumbent Kathy McFetridge easily defeated her challenger Henry Pudder Hudson, and the district's millage rate continuation question was approved by a large margin.[14]

The remaining majority of candidates were elected without opposition with three incumbents and three newcomers in uncontested races. Rogers School District held an uncontentious election. Amy Horn was elected without opposition to the Zone 4 seat on the board, and a millage question to continue the district's current millage rate was approved.[15] Similarly in Conway Public Schools, Wesley "Trip" Leach and Scott Champlin won their first terms on the board without opposition to the Zone 4 and 5 seats, respectively.

Cabot Public School District Board of Education Position 1 incumbent Corey Williams retained his seat for a second consecutive term without opposition. Jeannie Cole and Deanie Mehl were both re-elected to the Fort Smith Public Schools Board of Education. Cole retained the Zone 3 seat, and Mehl retained her at-large seat.


Midterm Election Countdown: "Firsts"

By Brittany Clingen

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The November 2014 general election is poised to be one of notable "firsts," particularly for minority groups. Women, African-Americans, Muslims, transgender people and openly gay men and women are all represented on 2014 ballots and could achieve significant victories if elected. Now it's up to voters to decide whether history will be made on November 4.


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