May 20, 2018
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The United States will not recognize the results of Venezuela's presidential election, U.S. Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan announced Sunday.

Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro is expected to secure another six-year term as his country goes to the polls despite the dire conditions Venezuelans face under his leadership. Venezuela has been in a state of crisis for several years, suffering grave shortages of food, medicine, and other necessities as well as hyperinflation.

Some of Maduro's critics are boycotting the election, which they say will be rigged regardless of participation, in an attempt to delegitimize Maduro's win. The two most popular opposition candidates have been banned from running by the Maduro government.

Sullivan indicated the U.S. is also considering oil sanctions on Venezuela and will broach the topic at Monday's G20 meeting in Buenos Aires. "We need to make sure we adhere to our goal which is to target corrupt regime officials and not the people of Venezuela," he said. "We don't want to damage the country in a way that makes it difficult to repair after democracy is restored." Bonnie Kristian

May 12, 2018
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Iraqi voters head to the polls Saturday for the first time since the country declared victory over the Islamic State. Reports from Baghdad suggest low turnout, and of those who did try to vote, some were turned away because they have not received their new, biometric voting ID cards in time for the election.

Iraqi leaders attempted to bolster turnout by removing a security curfew and urging participation to keep corrupt or unpopular politicians out of office. "The lack of participation will give the opportunity for others to reach parliament and they will be very far from the aspirations of the people," warned Sheikh Abdul-Mahdi al-Karbalai, a representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani.

Incumbent Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has been credited with defeating ISIS but nevertheless faces stiff competition at the ballot box. Preeminent among his rivals is former Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki, who has closer ties to Iran. Bonnie Kristian

March 18, 2018
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Russian President Vladimir Putin faces seven challengers as voters go to the polls Sunday, but he is expected to easily win a fourth term for another six years in office. Advance polling suggests Putin boasts about 70 percent support, though critics say Russian elections are a pseudo-democratic exercise with a predetermined outcome.

"I voted for Putin," said Ust-Djeguta resident Lyubov Kachan, a teacher, in an interview with Reuters. "If anything is not going our way right now, that's thanks to the world which treats us so negatively, while he is trying to stand up to that."

Apathetic voters are under increased pressure to turn out this year, with some employers asking workers to provide proof that they voted. The mayor of the city of Yekaterinburg told The Associated Press officials "received orders 'from higher up' to make sure the presidential vote turnout is over 60 percent." Bonnie Kristian

October 22, 2017
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Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe won a resounding victory in Sunday's snap election. His Liberal Democratic Party-led (LDP) coalition is set to retain its two-thirds supermajority in Japan's lower house of Parliament, and Abe is likely to secure a record-setting third term next fall.

With a fresh mandate from voters, Abe is expected to push for changes to Japan's "pacifist" constitution, in which Article 9, drafted by the United States government in the wake of World War II, prohibits the maintenance of armed forces. In practice, the clause has served as a mandate for a strictly defensive military; Abe wants to move toward a more interventionist pose.

"First, I want to deepen debate and have as many people as possible agree," Abe said of his plans. "We should put priority on that." Bonnie Kristian

August 15, 2017
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Alabama voters will cast ballots on Tuesday in Republican and Democratic primaries to pick their nominees for a Dec. 12 special election to replace Jeff Sessions, who gave up his Senate seat to become President Trump's attorney general. The Republican fight is getting all the attention, since Alabama is reliably Republican and hasn't had a Democrat in the Senate in 20 years. Trump has endorsed the incumbent, Sen. Luther Strange (R), in a series of tweets, including one Tuesday morning, and a robocall on Monday, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) has contributed millions of dollars in ads for Strange through a super PAC.

Still, Strange is in a tough fight for second place with Rep. Mo Brooks (R-Al.), who is running as the anti-McConnell, pro-Trump candidate. The consistent frontrunner is Roy Moore, the former Alabama chief justice who gained fame as the "10 Commandments judge" for refusing to remove a 10 Commandments monument from the state courthouse despite a federal order, and then for ordering probate judges to ignore the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling establishing the right to same-sex marriage — both of which got him removed from the bench. He is promising this time to "drain the swamp." The top two vote-getters will face off on Sept. 26.

There are seven candidates on the Democratic side, but the two expected to make the runoff (or win outright) are former U.S. Attorney Doug Jones, endorsed by former Vice President Joe Biden and favored by local Democratic Party leaders, and business executive and Navy veteran Robert Kennedy Jr., who, like Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.), is not related to the famous Kennedy political dynasty. Peter Weber

June 20, 2017

Americans in Georgia's 6th district and South Carolina's 5th district go to the polls on Tuesday to vote in concurrent special elections in traditionally Republican strongholds. "Stock up on coffee. Poised to be a very late night," a Republican involved in the tight Georgia race between Democrat Jon Ossoff and Republican Karen Handel told Politico Playbook. "This race is truly too close to call — best guess is that Ossoff gets between 48-51 percent," a Democrat said.

The results will also test President Trump, who has enthusiastically shared his support for Handel. A defeat, though, could "rattle Senate Republicans as they try to jump-start legislation to overhaul the nation's health-care law by the end of this month," The Washington Post writes.

"The Georgia special election contains an important lesson," Paul Waldman explains at The Week. "It's an exaggerated version of something we should expect and even embrace for 2018 and 2020: the nationalized local election."

The South Carolina race is less of a nail-biter, with the Republican candidate, Ralph Norman, expected to defeat Democrat Archie Parnell. But by how much "can tell us how sour the national environment is for Republicans," FiveThirtyEight writes. Jeva Lange

June 18, 2017
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New French President Emmanuel Macron is on track to consolidate his power in the National Assembly elections, which will be completed after a second round of voting Sunday. Macron's year-old En Marche! movement is expected to win as many as 470 of 577 seats in France's lower house of Parliament, an even more remarkable majority than the 400 seats the president's party was initially predicted to take.

This means heavy losses for the right-wing Republicans and the Socialists, previously the heavy hitters of French politics. "What is extraordinary is the speed with which it's happened," Sudhir Hazareesingh, an Oxford University professor of French politics, told The Washington Post. "What's also extraordinary is that both traditional parties are being swept away."

Results will be in around 1 p.m. Eastern time. Bonnie Kristian

June 11, 2017
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Puerto Ricans vote Sunday on whether their island, currently a U.S. territory, should become the 51st American state. The referendum is not binding; should the vote for statehood win, it would still require approval from Congress and President Trump to move forward.

The vote takes place on the 100th anniversary of Puerto Ricans obtaining U.S. citizenship, and along with statehood and maintaining the status quo, the ballot also offers voters a chance to endorse national independence. Past votes have failed to produce a clear majority for any one option.

Puerto Rico is suffering a decade-long economic depression which many attribute to its territorial status and which some believe makes statehood less likely. "Statehood hasn't come in the past 120 years," said Miriam Gonzalez of San Juan. "Why would Donald Trump want to make this bankrupt island a state now? It will be another 120 years before that happens." Bonnie Kristian

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