TN early voting sets record: 1,675,679

Part of a news release from Secretary of State’s office:

A record-breaking 1,675,679 people voted early or cast absentee ballots across the Volunteer State’s 95 counties from Oct. 19 through Nov. 3. That turnout easily beat the record set during the 2008 presidential election when 1,579,960 Tennesseans voted early in person or by mail.

In March, a record 1.24 million Tennesseans voted during the March 1 presidential preference primary or “SEC Primary.”

“I’m thrilled people are engaged and took advantage of the convenience of early voting,” said Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “Now our attention turns to Election Day to ensure we continue to conduct fair and honest elections across the state.”

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

(Notes: County-by-county figures on early voting are HERE. The Tennessean observes that the increase over 2008 totals was not as pronounced in Shelby and Davidson counties, HERE. The same holds true for Knox County, reports the News-Sentinel.

A write-in campaign for Jeremy Durham?

There’s a movement afoot in Williamson County to have voters write in the name of ousted state Rep. Jeremy Durham, reports Cari Wade Gervin, observing that those who heed the call won’t have their votes counted.

A Facebook post is quoted:

 “The liberal media hand in hand with the liberal wing of the Tennessee Republican Party worked together to try and destroy the career of a true patriot, Jeremy Durham. Why? Because he did not go along to get along. He spoke up, disagreed and made the legislative leadership explain their actions to the voters of Tennessee. We say enough, we want Jeremy representing us and looking out after us. On election day or in early voting, in District 65 write in Jeremy Durham for State Representative,” says the Facebook page promoting this ill-advised idea — a page, which, we should note, has only five people liking it.

…In Tennessee, it is not enough to simply write in a name. If one wants to run as a write-in candidate for office, one must notify the Secretary of State of that intent, by a filing deadline. That deadline for the November election was noon on Sept. 19, 2016. And only four names of eligible state House write-in candidates are on that list: John R. Huff, Sr., in District 12, Rhonda Lynnese Gallman in District 15, Andrew Newman in District 28, and Sibyl Reagan in District 45. No other name written in will count.

The GOP nominee in the district is Sam Whitson; the Democratic nominee is Holly McCall.

TN ranked low in ‘political engagement’

A study by the personal finance website WalletHub finds Tennessee ranks low in “political engagement,” as measured by statistics on voting, political contributions and the like. Overall, Tennessee was 46th on the list of 50 states and the District of Columbia.

D.C. was at the top of the list; Oklahoma at the bottom.

From the Tennessee summary:

In order to determine where Americans are most involved in politics, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across seven key indicators of political engagement. They range from “percentage of registered voters in the 2012 presidential election” to “total political contributions per adult population.”

Political Engagement in Tennessee (1=Most; 25=Avg.)

38th – % of Registered Voters in 2012 Presidential Election

43rd – % of Electorate Who Voted in 2014 Midterm Elections

46th – % of Electorate Who Voted in 2012 Presidential Election

10th – Change in % of Electorate Who Actually Voted in 2012 Elections vs. 2008 Elections

36th – Total Political Contributions per Adult Population

34th – Voter Accessibility Policies

Note: The full study is HERE.

Hargett says no to changing voter purge rules

Secretary of State Tre Hargett is rejecting calls by the Tennessee League of Women Voters and a New York law firm to change how the state purges inactive voters from voter registration lists in light of a U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in an Ohio case, reports the Times-Free Press.

In his letter Friday, Hargett, a Republican, said his office “has reviewed [the] letter alleging that Tennessee is in violation of Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. We believe that Tennessee’s laws for removing voters are substantially different than the laws and directives at issue in Ohio.”

Hargett added: “Additionally, your letter was not received until after early voting had begun across the state, and changing the rules at this stage of the process would present a major disruption to elections in Tennessee.”

With Tennessee also falling under the 6th Circuit’s jurisdiction, League of Women Voters President Marian Ott and Stuart Naifeh, a senior counsel with the New York-based law firm Demos involved in the Ohio litigation, wrote letters to Hargett saying he should drop what they called Tennessee’s similar method of purging voters from registration lists.

Asked about Hargett’s decision, Ott said Friday afternoon, “[The] League of Women Voters of Tennessee is obviously disappointed in Secretary Hargett’s response. His response offers no information about why the facts in Tennessee are substantially different than in the Ohio case because they are not different — Tennessee has a purging process based on nonvoting.”

Justin Timberlake had “no idea” TN law bans voting selfies

Excerpt from a Rolling Stone report on Justin Timberlake’s appearance Wednesday night on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon:

While chatting with the host, Fallon asked the pop star what he’d been up to lately, to which Timberlake replied a bit bashfully, “I recently voted. Super quiet, under the radar.” Earlier this week, Timberlake cast an early ballot in Tennessee and posted of a photo of himself at the booth to Instagram with a caption encouraging people to vote – only to find out later that Tennessee passed a law in 2015 prohibiting photos inside polling locations (the Shelby County district attorney was not interested in investigating the matter).

On Fallon, Timberlake reiterated his plea that people get out and vote, and then joked: “But don’t take a picture of yourself. I had no idea! I was like, ‘This is gonna be great! And inspire people to get out and vote!'”

Note: Previous post HERE.

League seeks change in TN voter purging practices

Tennessee League of Women Voters and a public interest law firm are calling on Secretary of State Tre Hargett to change current state practice for purging voters from registration lists, reports the Times-Free Press. A three-judge panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals last money ruled that a similar purging procedure used in Ohio violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993

With Tennessee also falling under the 6th Circuit’s jurisdiction, League of Women Voters President Marian Ott and Stuart Naifeh, a senior counsel with a New York law firm involved in the Ohio litigation, say Hargett should drop Tennessee’s similar method of purging voters from registration lists.

“The League of Women Voters strongly supports efforts to enable all eligible Tennesseans to vote,” said League President Ott in a statement. “The law is the law, and Tennessee officials should follow the law and let eligible voters vote.  It’s just not right to block eligible citizens from voting.”

… In a letter to Hargett dated Thursday, Naifeh, the senior counsel with the Demos law firm, said Tennessee is “not in compliance with Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act.”

He noted Tennessee law describes a process in which voters who don’t vote in a period of “two consecutive November elections” are sent a forwardable confirmation notice. Voters who don’t respond to the notice or don’t update their registration or vote in the subsequent period “between the time the notice is sent and the second regular November election after the notice was sent” see their registrations purged, Naifeh wrote.

…”We urge you, as the State’s chief election official, to take immediate steps to bring the State into compliance with federal law by directing local election officials to cease and desist from cancelling any voter registration based on voter inactivity and by implementing a process through which the ballots of improperly cancelled voters can be counted,” Naifeh’s letter says.’

Hargett has not yet responded.





Justin Timberlake broke state law with voting booth ‘selfie’?

Singer Justin Timberlake may have run afoul of Tennessee law taking a picture of himself while voting in Shelby County, reports the Commercial Appeal. A state statue enacted by the Legislature in 2015 prohibits photos in polling places.

A spokesman for the District Attorney’s office initially told the newspaper the matter was “under review,” but later provided this comment instead: “While we are aware of an allegation that someone may have violated a Tennessee state election law, we have not been presented anything by an investigative authority.”

Timberlake, who lives in California and recently bought a spread near Nashville, posted a selfie on Instagram on Monday that showed him casting his ballot at the New Bethel Missionary Baptist Church in Germantown.

… “We’re thrilled Justin can’t stop the feeling when it comes to voting so much that he voted early in person and is promoting voting to his millions of fans,” said (Tennessee Secretary of State) spokesman Adam Ghassemi. “In Tennessee, using electronic devices inside polling locations to take pictures, videos or make calls is not allowed. We hope this encourages more people than ever to vote, but Tennesseans should only use their phones inside polling locations for informational purposes to assist while voting, like our free GoVoteTN mobile app. If polling officials discover someone violating this law they will ask the voter to put their phone away.”

An AP report on the matter includes this statement on voting selfies in other states: Federal courts have struck down bans in New Hampshire and Indiana, and on Monday, a judge in Michigan blocked enforcement of a ban on ballot selfies, saying it violates free speech.

Note: The Instanagram post is HERE – with commenters criticizing both him and the state law.

Memory Lane Note: Back in 2007, Timberlake was a Tennessee news topic when state legislators balked at adopting a resolution honoring his work (basically it was deemed too sexually oriented), which had been introduced by a Memphis senator. A Google search shows the resulting AP story is still online, HERE, for example.

TN early voting: 470,954 so far, ahead of past years pace

A total of 470,954 Tennesseans had cast ballots through the first four days of early voting, according to the state Division of Elections website on Sunday. The totals are broken down by county.

More than half that total, which includes absentee ballots, came on Wednesday, the first day of early voting, when 272,308 votes were recorded. That compares to 228,000 votes reported in the first two days of early voting in 2012, the most recent previous presidential election year, according to an email Friday from Adam Ghassemi, spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office.

In 2012, a total of 2,479,733 Tennesseans cast ballots with about 1.4 million voting early. In 2008, also a presidential election year, the total vote wound up at 2,618,238, including just over 1.5 million early voters. In 2012, 56.7 percent of ballots cast came in early voting; in 2008, 57.9 percent, according to the elections website.

The early figures so far this year thus indicate there could be a record November turnout, assuming the pace continues. There have been several media reports on the high turnout so far in different areas around the state, most focused on the first day of early voting.

Examples include the News-Sentinel (which includes some Shelby County figures as well as Knox County), HERE; The Tennessean, HERE; and the Times-Free Press, HERE.

Trump: Voter fraud ‘very, very common;’ Hargett: Not in TN

With early voting set to begin Wednesday in Tennessee’s 95 counties, Secretary of State Tre Hargett and state Election Coordinator Mark Goins said  Monday they’ve see no evidence of the voter fraud that Donald Trump contends is common  and setting up a rigged election, reports the Times-Free Press.

Asked about Trump’s assertions that his national contest with Democrat Hillary Clinton is “fixed” or “rigged,” Hargett said, “I hesitate to call somebody irresponsible. But, what I will say is that anything that causes people to have less confidence in being able to go vote, I frown upon regardless of what party that comes from.”

Hargett said the only ones asking him questions about potential fraud have been news reporters following up on Trump’s assertions. That resulted in Monday’s news conference, he said.

At the same time, the TFP carries the latest AP story on Trump’s assertions. An excerpt:

Speaking at a rally Monday night in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Trump doubled down on his widely condemned attempts to undermine the election’s outcome, which are unprecedented in modern presidential politics.

“They even want to try to rig the election at the polling booths. And believe me, there’s a lot going on,” Trumptold a rowdy audience. “Do you ever hear these people? They say there’s nothing’s going on. People that have died 10 years ago are still voting. Illegal immigrants are voting. I mean, where are the street smarts of some of these politicians?”

“So many cities are corrupt,” he added, “and voter fraud is very, very common.”


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