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Sun, Feb. 23

Election results: Voters OK marriage; reject taxes, Homeowners' Bill of Rights, lawmakers' pay hike

(Editor's Note: The Courier staff will update this article link with up-to-the-minute local, state and national election results throughout the day and tonight. You may wish to bookmark this page for easy reference.)Arizona voters approve anti-gay marriage amendmentBy BOB BAUM, Associated Press WriterPHOENIX - This time, Arizona voters said "yes" to a constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage.Proposition 102, a stripped-down version of the one rejected at the polls two years ago, was passing 56 percent to 44 percent with 81 percent of the precincts reporting Tuesday night.The measure was simplified with the hopes of a different outcome, and the strategy worked.In 2006, voters made normally socially conservative Arizona the only state to reject a same-sex marriage ban on the ballot.Unlike that more complicated measure, the proposal before voters this year was stripped down to 20 words: "Only a union of one man and one woman shall be valid or recognized as a marriage in this state."The measure carried no immediate practical impact since same-sex marriage already is banned under a 1996 Arizona law. Supporters said adding the ban to the constitution would prevent judges from one day overturning that law.Catholic and Mormon leaders were among the most vociferous proponents of the measure, which was referred to the ballot by the state Legislature.Opponents called the proposal unnecessary and mean-spirited. They said the Legislature could have better spent their time on more pressing issues facing the state.Two years ago, the Arizona measure was the only one of eight such proposals on the ballot nationwide that day to fail. Overall, 27 states have approved anti-gay marriage measures.Besides banning such unions, the 2006 measure would have barred government entities - such as the state, cities, counties, universities and school districts - from recognizing civil unions or domestic partnerships. That meant it would even have applied to men and women living together but not married.***100 - Voters overwhelmingly OK initiative barring real-estate transfer taxBy CHRISTINE ROGEL, Cronkite News ServicePHOENIX - Voters overwhelmingly approved a ballot proposition Tuesday that will amend Arizona's Constitution to bar state or local governments from adding a tax on the sale or transfer of homes, farms and other real property.Voters were approving Proposition 100 by more than three to one.A well-funded effort led by real estate agents contended that Proposition 100 would prevent double taxation of property owners, who already pay property taxes."The passage of Prop 100 is a victory for Arizona taxpayers," said Tom Jenney, Arizona director for Americans for Prosperity, a conservative association that advocates for taxpayers. "It sends a strong signal to politicians that the people of Arizona do not want state and local governments coming after their houses in search of a new revenue source to boost bloated budgets."The Arizona Education Association raised the strongest objections to the proposition, saying it would be unwise to limit the options of governments dealing with Arizona's struggling economy and population growth.As of 2004, 35 states and the District of Columbia had taxes on the sale or transfer of real property, producing about $7 billion. The amount was less 1 percent of the sales price or less in 27 states. Such taxes are imposed at the local level in some states.Neither Arizona nor any of its local governments have such a tax.***201 - Voters shoot down proposition pitting trade union against home buildersBy MARIA KONOPKEN, Cronkite News ServicePHOENIX - Arizona voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly rejected a ballot proposition that would have given buyers more leeway in seeking compensation for and repairs of problems with new homes.Proposition 201 was failing by a margin of nearly four to one.The Homeowners' Bill of Rights Committee, consisting primarily of members of Sheet Metal Workers Local 359, put forward the proposition, calling it the Homeowners' Bill of Rights and saying it would protect buyers. Home builders mounted a well-funded campaign saying it would lead to unnecessary lawsuits.The measure would have required builders to offer 10-year warranties on new homes. It would have allowed homeowners to choose who repairs defects and would guarantee compensation for repairs not completed.It also would have prohibited sales contracts from requiring alternate means of resolving disputes, such as mediation and arbitration. Prospective homebuyers would have been allowed to sue over repairs, and the required notice for buyers to request repairs would have been reduced from 90 days to 60 days.Supporters said the proposition was intended to protect homeowners from shoddy work that results from homebuilders' pressures to produce homes faster and cheaper. They argued that current laws and statutes of limitation on lawsuits favor home builders.***300 - Arizona voters overwhelmingly reject pay raise for lawmakersBy KELLY McGRATH, Cronkite News ServicePHOENIX - Arizona voters on Tuesday overwhelmingly defeated a ballot proposition that would have given state lawmakers their first pay raise since 1998.Proposition 300, which carried a recommendation that lawmaker pay be increased from $24,000 to $30,000, was losing by a two-to-one margin.Bruce Merrill, a retired Arizona State University professor who directs the Cronkite/Eight poll, said the economy wasn't the only factor behind the outcome.Merrill said he was sympathetic to lawmakers, however, because serving in the Legislature is a demanding job that pays little.Since 1998, voters had defeated four other attempts to increase lawmakers' pay.***Reports from earlier in the evening (9 p.m. Arizona time)Obama triumphs, will be first black US presidentBy DAVID ESPO, AP Special CorrespondentWASHINGTON - Barack Obama swept to victory as the nation's first black president Tuesday night in an electoral college landslide that overcame racial barriers as old as America itself.The son of a black father from Kenya and a white mother from Kansas, the Democratic senator from Illinois sealed his historic triumph by defeating Republican Sen. John McCain in a string of wins in hard-fought battleground states - Ohio, Florida, Virginia and Iowa.A huge crowd in Grant Park in Obama's home town of Chicago erupted in jubilation at the news of his victory. Some wept.McCain called his former rival to concede defeat - and the end of his own 10-year quest for the White House. "The American people have spoken, and spoken clearly," McCain told disappointed supporters in Arizona.Obama and his running mate, Sen. Joseph Biden of Delaware, will take their oaths of office as president and vice president on Jan. 20, 2009.As the 44th president, Obama will move into the Oval Office as leader of a country that is almost certainly in recession, and fighting two long wars, one in Iraq, the other in Afghanistan.The popular vote was close, but not the count in the Electoral College, where it mattered most.There, Obama's audacious decision to contest McCain in states that hadn't gone Democratic in years paid rich dividends.Obama has said his first order of presidential business will be to tackle the economy. He has also pledged to withdraw most U.S. combat troops from Iraq within 16 months.Fellow Democrats rode his coattails to larger majorities in both houses of Congress. They defeated incumbent Republicans and won open seats by turn.The 47-year-old Illinois senator was little known just four years ago. A widely praised speech at the Democratic National Convention, delivered when he was merely a candidate for the Senate, changed that.Overnight he became a sought-after surrogate campaigner, and he had scarcely settled into his Senate seat when he began preparing for his run for the White House.Shortly after 11 p.m. in the East, The Associated Press count showed Obama with 338 electoral votes, well over the 270 needed for victory. McCain had 127 after winning states that comprised the normal Republican base.The nationwide popular vote was remarkably close. Totals from 58 percent of the nation's precincts showed Obama with 51 percent and McCain with 47.9.Interviews with voters suggested that almost six in 10 women were backing Obama nationwide, while men leaned his way by a narrow margin. Just over half of whites supported McCain, giving him a slim advantage in a group that Bush carried overwhelmingly in 2004.The results of the AP survey were based on a preliminary partial sample of nearly 10,000 voters in Election Day polls and in telephone interviews over the past week for early voters.Democrats also acclaimed Senate successes by former Gov. Mark Warner in Virginia, Rep. Tom Udall in New Mexico and Rep. Mark Udall in Colorado. All won seats left open by Republican retirements.In New Hampshire, former Gov. Jeanne Shaheen defeated Republican Sen. John Sununu in a rematch of their 2002 race, and Sen. Elizabeth Dole fell to Democrat Kay Hagan in North Carolina.Democrats also looked for gains in the House. They defeated Republican incumbents Rep. Tom Feeney and Ric Keller in Florida, 22-year veteran Chris Shays in Connecticut and Rep. Robin Hayes in North Carolina.At least two Democrats lost their seats. Rep. Kevin Mahoney fell after admitting to two extramarital affairs while serving his first term in Florida. In Louisiana, Democratic Rep. Don Cazayoux lost the seat he had won in a special election six months ago.The resurgent Democrats also elected a governor in one of the nation's traditional bellwether states when Missouri Attorney General Jay Nixon won his race.The White House was the main prize of the night on which 35 Senate seats and all 435 House seats were at stake. A dozen states elected governors, and ballots across the country were dotted with issues ranging from taxes to gay rights.An estimated 187 million voters were registered, and in an indication of interest in the battle for the White House, 40 million or so had already voted as Election Day dawned.Obama sought election as one of the youngest presidents, and one of the least experienced in national political affairs.That wasn't what set the Illinois senator apart, though - neither from his rivals nor from the other men who had served as president since the nation's founding more than two centuries ago. A black man, he confronted a previously unbreakable barrier as he campaigned on twin themes of change and hope in uncertain times.McCain, a prisoner of war during Vietnam, a generation older than his rival at 72, was making his second try for the White House, following his defeat in the battle for the GOP nomination in 2000.A conservative, he stressed his maverick's streak. And although a Republican, he did what he could to separate himself from an unpopular president.For the most part, the two presidential candidates and their running mates, Biden and Republican Gov. Sarah Palin of Alaska, spent weeks campaigning in states that went for Bush four years ago.McCain and Obama each won contested nominations - the Democrat outdistancing former first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton - and promptly set out to claim the mantle of change."I am not George W. Bush," McCain said in one debate.Obama retorted that he might as well be, telling audiences in state after state that the Republican had voted with the president 90 percent of the time across eight years of the Bush administration.***What's Next-Electoral CollegeKey days between Election Day and Inauguration DayKey dates in formalizing the presidential election results:• Nov. 4: Voters in the general election choose a group of electors from each state to serve in the Electoral College, which will elect the president and vice president. When Americans vote, they are technically picking representatives pledged to the candidates and aren't voting directly for the contenders themselves.• Dec. 9: Deadline for states to resolve issues regarding election recounts, controversies or contests.• Dec. 15: Electors meet in their states to pick the president and vice president. They are not required by federal law to follow the will of the popular vote in their state.• Dec. 24: Deadline for designated officials, such as the president of the Senate and others, to have the electoral votes in hand, though states do not face any legal penalty if they don't comply.• Jan. 6: Congress meets to count the electoral votes. The president and vice president must win a majority of electoral votes, or 270, to be elected. If there is no majority, the House selects the president, and the Senate selects the vice president.• Jan. 20: The president-elect is sworn into office.
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