VOL. 131 | NO. 224 | Wednesday, November 9, 2016
Shelby County Vote Count Stalls For Third Presidential Contest
By Bill Dries
Republican Presidential nominee Donald Trump won Tennessee’s 11 electoral votes Tuesday, Nov. 8, in unofficial statewide election returns while Democratic Presidential nominee Hillary Clinton carried Shelby County in the popular vote.
Clinton conceded the national race to Trump early Wednesday morning as the local vote count was still incomplete.
Unofficial statewide results in the presidential general election from the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office were:
Trump 1,518,778 or 61 percent
Clinton 867,173 or 34.8 percent
Unofficial final Shelby County results in the presidential popular vote with approximately 90 percent of the county’s 166 precincts were:
Clinton 206,640 or 62.2 percent
Trump 114,948 or 34.6 percent
The election night in Memphis featured another long and delayed vote count for a third consecutive presidential general election. In the 2008 and 2012 presidential general elections, the winning candidate had declared victory and the losing candidate had conceded before any vote totals were posted by the Shelby County Election Commission.
The first votes Tuesday weren’t posted by the Shelby County Election Commission until 10:25 p.m. and well past midnight the vote totals were still being tabulated.
By 1 a.m. Wednesday, 336,158 votes had been tabulated county-wide for all of the candidates in the presidential general election. Election officials estimated a total vote count of 375,000 to 400,000 combined election day, early vote and absentee in Shelby County.
Watch this story for changes reflecting the unofficial final totals.
The Election Commission planned to begin processing the early and absentee votes at 9 a.m. Tuesday. But more than three hours after the polls closed no votes had been posted on the Election Commission’s web site.
Election workers said a memory card left at a polling place after election day voting ended was to blame.
But such mistakes have been common in past elections and did not prevent the release of the early vote. In the past, those mistakes have slowed the vote count toward its conclusion.
Even with incomplete vote totals in which it was impossible to tell how many precincts had been counted into Wednesday morning, the outcome in many of the races local, state and federal were apparent.
In the general election contests for the two Congressional seats covering Shelby County, 9th District Democratic incumbent Steve Cohen easily beat Republican challenger Wayne Alberson of Memphis in his easiest election year since claiming the Congressional seat in 200t6. Alberson had no backing from the state Republican party in the heavily Democratic district.
The totals, according to incomplete returns from the Secretary of State’s office after midnight, showed:
Cohen: 169,911 or 78.7 percent
Alberson: 40,580 or 18.8 percent
In the 8th District, Germantown attorney David Kustoff claimed the seat covering 15 counties in West Tennessee including parts of Shelby County and Memphis now held by fellow Republican Stephen Fincher.
Fincher announced in February he would not seek another two-year term to the seat he’s held for three terms.
Kustoff defeated Democratic nominee Rickey Hobson of Somerville, Tennessee in the heavily Republican district. Hobson had no help from the state Democratic party.
Incomplete returns early Wednesday from the Secretary of State’s office across all 15 counties in the district were:
Kustoff: 193,353 or 68.7 percent
Hobson: 70,426 or 25 percent
Kustoff carried every county in the district except Haywood County which Hobson claimed.
Kustoff, a former U.S. Attorney and a former chairman of the Shelby County Republican Party, emerged from a 13-candidate GOP primary in August to claim the party’s nomination.
In declaring victory early in the vote count as the national outcome between Clinton and Trump was still in doubt, Kustoff told supporters in East Memphis that the election was about “a different track and a different course” in his case.
“If the winner is Donald Trump, it is my hope we can work together toward shaping a country that is once again strong at home and abroad,” he said. “If it is Hillary Clinton, make no mistake, I will fight each and every day to do everything I can to make sure that she will not take our country down the path set forth by her radical agenda. … Regardless of the outcome, I will do what I promised the voters. I will fight and I will lead in the House of Representatives.”
The local upset of the evening was in the state House general election contests in which Democrats picked up a seat in the 14-member Shelby County delegation to the House.
Democratic challenger Dwayne Thompson upset District 96 Republican state Representative Steve McManus of Cordova
Thompson’s victory is the only change in the partisan balance of the state House delegation from Shelby County making it 10 Democrats and four Republicans.
Unofficial and incomplete returns in the race are:
Thompson: 13,972 or 50.6 percent
McManus: 13,599 or 49.3 percent
Eight of the state House races were one-candidate affairs with the winners decided in the August primaries with no opposition from the other party.
The Tuesday general election balloting confirmed the newest member of the Shelby County House delegation Mark Lovell, who claimed the District 95 seat with an upset of Republican incumbent Curry Todd in the August primaries. Lovell had no Democratic or independent opposition on the Nov. 8 ballot.
The other seven unopposed House candidates were incumbents.
The two state Senate races on the Shelby County ballot were also one-candidate unopposed races in which state Senate Republican leader Mark Norris of Collierville and Democratic state Senator Sara Kyle of Memphis were re-elected.
Meanwhile, Collierville Mayor Stan Joyner and Millington Mayor Terry Jones were re-elected to new four-year terms in suburban elections.
In a hotly contested race for Germantown alderman that became a reflection of a larger division across several elections about the city’s direction, alderman Dave Klevan, appointed to the position 3 seat held by Mike Palazzolo when Palazzolo was elected mayor in 2014, was beaten by challenger Dean Massey.
The incomplete unofficial returns were:
Germantown schools board incumbent Natalie Williams was upset in her re-election bid by challenger Suzanne Jones.
The incomplete official returns were:
All four ballot questions in Shelby County were approved by voters in the partial results posted early Wednesday morning.
Memphis voters approved a shift in Memphis Light Gas and Water Division in lieu of tax payments that increases city government’s share by $5 million with a corresponding $5 million reduction in county government’s share.
And in a countywide referendum, voters approved a county charter amendment that requires approval by the Shelby County Commission for a county mayor to fire a county attorney.
The countywide referendum on the county attorney’s office caps several years of internal debate between some commissioners and county mayor Mark Luttrell over the independence of the office appointed by the mayor and confirmed by the commission. Most commissioners favor having an attorney to advise the body independent of the county attorney, similar to the legal counsel used by the Memphis City Council.
But the county charter specifies that the county attorney is the only source of legal advice to the commission and the rest of county government including the mayor.
The city-wide vote on the new in lieu of taxes split from Memphis Light Gas and Water Division between the city and county governments also saw Luttrell come out against the proposal. Meanwhile Memphis City Council members worked early voting sites in October and early November in favor of the new arrangement.
Lakeland voters approved two-term limits for the town’s board of commissioners and mayor The term limits are different than those already in place for many city of Memphis and Shelby County elected officials in that it doesn’t specify a limit of two consecutive terms. The Lakeland limits are two-terms consecutive or not. It also specifies that someone elected to one term on the Lakeland commission and one term as mayor are then barred from running for or serving again in either position.
In the fourth ballot question, voters in unincorporated Shelby County approved the sale of wine in retail food stores.
The approval comes two years after votes in six of Shelby County’s seven towns and cities approved similar ballot questions that permitted wine sales in food stores.
The presidential general election is the most popular election cycle in terms of turnout in Shelby County politics. It is the only election cycle that consistently draws more than half of the county’s registered voters.
Those voters are predominantly Democratic within the city of Memphis and predominantly Republican outside the city.
The 2016 election cycle featured no statewide races for the U.S. Senate, something that happens once every 12 years in Tennessee.