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Judge rejects lawsuit seeking to void Arizona primary election results

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A judge on Tuesday tossed out a legal challenge to a problem-plagued presidential preference election in Arizona, ruling that the woes at the polls were not due to fraud.

Maricopa County Superior Court Judge David Gass said there were insufficient grounds for granting the request to void the results of the March 22 nominating election, which was marked by long lines and controversy.

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In a ruling from the bench, Gass said there were glitches and possible missteps by election officials but that the results would not have changed.

“Elections are human endeavors. They are never, ever perfect,” Gass said. “Glitches are always something that we need to wary of and we need to work hard, and we need to fix them…. But they don’t rise to the level of fraud.”

Gass issued his verbal decision following a two-day hearing on the lawsuit brought by Tucson resident John Brakey, who alleged that election officials committed misconduct.

The lawsuit argued officials improperly handled voter registration requests and permitted illegal votes to be cast in the election. He also said erroneous ballots were counted and the number of polling locations were inadequate.

He sought a repeat of the election, easily won by Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republican Donald Trump.

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Brakey’s attorney Michael Kielsky told Reuters on Tuesday night that he was disappointed in the ruling, but that it likely will not be appealed.

The election brought widespread criticism to Arizona, which saw frustrated voters wait in line for as long as five hours to cast their ballots at a drastically reduced number of polls.

In a cost-cutting move, county election officials slashed the polling locations to 60, compared with 200 in the election in 2012.

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Officials immediately took the blame for the mistake, saying the decision was based on past voter turnout and an increase in mail-in votes.

The election also faces a separate federal court challenge by the state and national Democratic parties, along with the Clinton and Sanders campaigns.

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Justice department officials additionally have launched a probe into the handling of the election.

(Reporting by David Schwartz in Phoenix; Editing by Curtis Skinner and Kim Coghill)


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Elections 2016

Vietnamese women strive to clear war-era mines

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Inching across a field littered with Vietnam war-era bombs, Ngoc leads an all-women demining team clearing unexploded ordnance that has killed tens of thousands of people -- including her uncle.

"He died in an explosion. I was haunted by memories of him," Le Thi Bich Ngoc tells AFP as she oversees the controlled detonation of a cluster bomb found in a sealed-off site in central Quang Tri province.

More than 6.1 million hectares of land in Vietnam remain blanketed by unexploded munitions -- mainly dropped by US bombers -- decades after the war ended in 1975.

At least 40,000 Vietnamese have since died in related accidents. Victims are often farmers who accidentally trigger explosions, people salvaging scrap metal, or children who mistake bomblets for toys.

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Elections 2016

Chief Justice John Roberts issues New Year’s Eve warning to stand up for democracy

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In a progressive welcoming move, Chief Justice John Roberts issued his New Year's Eve annual report urging his fellow federal judges to stand up for democracy.

"In our age, when social media can instantly spread rumor and false information on a grand scale, the public's need to understand our government, and the protections it provides, is ever more vital," he wrote. "We should celebrate our strong and independent judiciary, a key source of national unity and stability."

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Trump’s next 100 days will dictate whether he can be re-elected or not — here’s why

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According to CNN pollster-in-residence Harry Enten, Donald Trump's next 100 days -- which could include an impeachment trial in the Senate -- will hold the key to whether he will remain president in 2020.

As Eten explains in a column for CNN, "His [Trump's] approval rating has been consistently low during his first term. Yet his supporters could always point out that approval ratings before an election year have not historically been correlated with reelection success. But by mid-March of an election year, approval ratings, though, become more predictive. Presidents with low approval ratings in mid-March of an election year tend to lose, while those with strong approval ratings tend to win in blowouts and those with middling approval ratings usually win by small margins."

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