Slatery blasts judge for ruling allowing any voter to cast absentee ballot

State Attorney General Herbert Slatery, right, speaks with Rep. Jerry Sexton (R-Bean Station) on the House floor in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

State Attorney General Herbert Slatery issued an unusual statement criticizing a sitting judge for ruling against the state in a lawsuit over access to absentee ballots during the coronavirus pandemic.

Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle on Thursday evening rejected what she called the the state’s “oddly skewed” calculations about what it would take to drop restrictions on who can vote by mail. Election officials had estimated that under the change, 100% of registered voters could cast absentee ballots and overwhelm the system. Tennessee has never had a turnout anywhere near so high, Lyle said in the ruling.

“It is yet another court decision replacing legislation passed by the people’s elected officials with its own judgment,” Slatery said in a statement, which didn’t indicate whether he might seek an appeal.

Here’s the full statement:

Nashville- This evening Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle ordered state government to abandon long standing requirements for in person voting.

Tennessee, like all states, must engage in a delicate balancing act: it must safeguard voters from COVID-19 exposure while ensuring that voters are not disenfranchised.   

Tennessee’s election officials consulted with experts from the Tennessee Department of Health and county health departments to create a comprehensive COVID-19 election plan that conforms to the CDC’s guidance and makes Tennessee’s polling places safer than the general community.

The Court’s ruling, while rightly taking into account the safety of Tennessee’s voters and poll workers, failed to appropriately consider the extensive safety measures of the COVID-19 election plan, and, more importantly, gave little weight to the unanimous expertise of state and county election officials that hastily expanding absentee voting is impracticable and risks disenfranchising Tennessee voters. 

The Court’s order has taken this important decision away from Tennessee’s state and county election experts and unnecessarily risks voter confusion, potential voter fraud, and election disruption.

“It is yet another court decision replacing legislation passed by the people’s elected officials with its own judgment, largely ignoring the practicalities of implementing such a decision, and doing so in the midst of a pandemic and budget crisis,” said Herbert H. Slatery III.

16 Responses to Slatery blasts judge for ruling allowing any voter to cast absentee ballot

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    Stuart I. Anderson says:

    Come on Slattery, the Democrats have carefully drawn up vote harvesting plans that are all set to go and now they have a liberal judge’s ruling in their pocket. Don’t be such a kill joy.
    __________________

    Have you seen the market today? I sent Trump an e-mail warning him he may have to stop, I’m getting tired of winning just as he predicted.

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      John says:

      This wasn’t directed at Lyle. This was a warning to the state Supreme Court to get on the Trump train or else. He and his puppet Lee were cuckolded on the education debit card welfare handouts ruling.

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        John says:

        It’s either a threat to the Supreme Court or the equivalent of an Attorney General’s drunk text. Alcohol is a depressant. Maybe a little of both.

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    John Simpson says:

    Democrats just want chaos so they can cheat.

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    Paul says:

    Voting by mail……wonder why all those over age 60 and absentee voters (like the military) haven’t been seen as fraud magnets over the years by conservatives? Must be some magic aura around those groups. Next thing you know, kids will be stealing votes from mailboxes and handing them out to “whomever” as Trump suggested. But, I wouldn’t worry too much though, since Tennesseans seem to reliably be too busy to vote in large numbers, even if a kid hands them a ballot from a mailbox.

    Once Trump sees this ruling, I’m sure there will be a tweet from the bunker that he’s no doubt busy inspecting to threaten various and sundry as a key step toward sorting it out.

    As far as the market, well, if you think the market equates to “the economy” for your average person, it’s great. Sort of like for Trump tweeting and problem solving are synonymous.

    • Avatar
      Jonathan Swift says:

      I see way too much common sense and non-conservatism in this comment.

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Paul, thanks to real news on Fox News/Business News that doesn’t allow its viewers to miss a moment of Trump’s public appearances, about an hour ago I saw him in the Rose Garden commenting on the spectacular job numbers that came out today. Bunker? You simply should stop watching CNN/MSNBC if you don’t want to appear foolish when you unwittingly repeat their fake news.

      The way it works Paul for the most part the stock market reflects expectations about “the economy” about six months to a year out heavily influenced by conditions now. So for example, thanks to Trump’s business friendly policies unemployment dropped to record lows especially among minorities in this country, you know Paul “your average person” back in January when the market reached an all time high (and I advised everyone to get out). In March, because of “the economy” virtually shutting down for unknown duration the market sharply dropped (and I advised everyone to get in). Today, when the discussion involved how much employment would drop it actually ROSE, not among the Fortune 500/Top 1% but among “your average person.”

      Paul, living in the wonderland of left wing politics has a certain downside that I hope at least I am able to bring to your attention. This is a free country, you can always become a conservative, invest in the stock market, and live happily ever after.

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    Karen Bracken says:

    There are still some folks in TN that haven’t gotten the memo that the scamdemic is OVER. But they will continue to move the scam forward for political reasons. I do not believe she can change TN law. She does not have that authority. We can riot and rally; we can go to Lowes and Home Depot but we cannot go to the polls and vote. TN is becoming as corrupt as the rest of the country.

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    Cannoneer2 says:

    Slatery’s bloated salary isn’t helping things in this “budget crisis” either!

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      Of course, “Shade-Tree” Slatery, as an appointed Attorney General, is blithely oblivious to the desires of the people of Tennessee and he is notoriously slow or down right refuses to appeal lower court outrages . Sure would be swell if the Republican super-majority in the General Assembly would allow us to elect our Attorney General like almost every other state.

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    Eddie White says:

    Does it really matter in this country what we decide by ballot? You remember when 80 percent of Tennessee citizens voted to amend our state constitution to say marriage was between one woman and one man? How long did it take 5 judges to reverse that vote? Why don’t we just eliminate the legislative branch and turn the governing of our country over to the courts. The judges certainly know more than we average poorly informed citizens.

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    Henry Walker says:

    This kind of press release is not Slatery’s style, not at all, nor is it consistent with the standards of professional conduct of lawyers in general and the office of the Attorney General in particular. I have to (want to) believe that General Slatery would not have done this had not some members of the legislature encouraged him to do so………….I suspect his real bosses (the state supreme court justices) won’t like this a bit. I hope the Chief Justice privately lets him know that…………….
    ps. Chancellor Lyle is also an elected official.

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      Stuart I. Anderson says:

      YOU BET! Elected by the voters in one of our liberal ghettos to sit and field cases brought by leftist plaintiffs in order to give them the rulings that they want. It’s a game, now all we need in an energetic Attorney General accountable to the people because they elected him rather than “. . .his real bosses (the state supreme court justices). . . . “

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    Henry Walker says:

    Chancellor Lyle’s 31-page opinion was issued at 7:40 pm on Thursday night. Later that same evening, General Slatery issued his unusual statement criticizing the Judge and saying that she “failed to appropriately consider the extensive safety measures of the COVID-19 election plan and, more importantly, gave little weight to the unanimous expertise of state and county election officials that hastily expanding absentee voting is impracticable and risks disenfranchising Tennessee voters.”…………..It’s hard to believe that General Slatery had time to study the court’s opinion before issuing the statement. In fact, the Chancellor discussed at length both the medical issues and the practicality of a limited, temporary expansion in absentee voting. She found that that, even with the State’s safety precautions, absentee voting is medically necessary for some and medically prudent for all. She also found that, according to the state’s own evidence, mailing an absentee ballot this August and November to any voter who requests one is both practical and affordable. “As for voter fraud, the State’s own expert debunks and rejects that as a reason for not expanding access to voting by mail.” Opinion at 5………..Again, this misguided press release was surely not General Slatery’s idea……..Finally, I’ve not paid much attention to the absentee voter debate since I plan to vote in person and believe that others should choose to do that also. Having now read the opinion, though, it’s clear to me that the Chancellor is correct, that voting is a fundamental right in Tennessee and that the State must make reasonable accommodations to allow people who are afraid of infection, especially those in high-risk categories, to vote without exposing themselves to the virus. I would urge people to read the opinion for themselves before jumping to any conclusions about the judge, the reasons for her decision, or the strength of the state’s case.

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    LeeAnn C. says:

    Apparently, the judge is not observant of the vast number people that feel unencumbered by coronavirus to protest in close proximity to one another.

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