secretary of state

Hargett signs letter opposing federal voting bill

Secretary of State Tre Hargett speaks with Rep. Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) before Gov. Bill Haslam’s final State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo credit: Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Tennessee’s Tre Hargett has signed onto a letter from from Republican secretaries of state opposing legislation in congress aiming to set national voting guidelines. The letter is written by John Merrill of Alabama and signed by 15 other top state election officials.

The letter comes as Tennessee’s Attorney General Herbert Slatery has also joined Republican colleagues from other states in opposing the legislation.

Dear Majority Leader Schumer, Minority Leader McConnell, Speaker Pelosi, and House Minority Leader McCarthy:

We are writing you today to urge you to reject the “For the People Act” otherwise known as H.R. 1 or S. 1, which is a dangerous overreach by the federal government into the administration of elections.

Each state legislature should have the freedom and flexibility to determine practices that best meet the needs of their respective states. A one-size-fits-all approach mandated by Congress is not the solution to any of our problems.

These bills intrude upon our constitutional rights, and further sacrifice the security and integrity of the elections process. We firmly believe the authority to legislate and regulate these changes should be left with the states.

H.R. 1 and S. 1 blatantly undermine the extensive work we, as election officials, have completed in order to provide safe, accessible voting options for our constituencies. Many of the proposed practices would reverse the years of progress that has been made. We are strongly opposed to these bills and hope you will dismiss efforts to advance this legislation.

Thank you for your consideration and attention to this matter.

/SIGNED/

John H. Merrill
Alabama Secretary of State

Kevin Meyer
Alaska Lieutenant Governor

Brad Raffensperger
Georgia Secretary of State

Connie Lawson
Indiana Secretary of State

Scott Schwab
Kansas Secretary of State

Michael Adams
Kentucky Secretary of State

Kyle Ardoin
Louisiana Secretary of State

Bob Evnen
Nebraska Secretary of State

Alvin A. Jaeger
North Dakota Secretary of State

Steve Barnett
South Dakota Secretary of State

Tre Hargett
Tennessee Secretary of State

Mac Warner
West Virginia Secretary of State

Ed Buchanan
Wyoming Secretary of State

Paperwork for mystery vendor appears to have been improperly filed in registered agent’s name

Phoenix Solutions, the campaign vendor that has come under scrutiny following an FBI raid on Tennessee lawmakers last month, appears to have improperly filed its application to do business in the state.

A Spokane, Wash.-based company called Northwest Registered Agents LLC had been hired to originally register Phoenix Solutions in New Mexico in November 2019. When the company filed its papers with the Tennessee Secretary of State four days later, it submitted an electronic signature in the name of the same Northwest employee, Morgan Noble. The problem is that Noble did not submit the latter filing for Phoenix Solutions, according to her employer.

“We did not do that,” Jed Smith, a spokesman for Northwest Registered Agent LLC, told The Tennessee Journal. “It was unauthorized.”

The company remains a client of Northwest in both New Mexico and Tennessee, but Smith said “we weren’t hired” for registration purposes in the latter.

Phoenix Solutions did $231,144 worth of business with Tennessee Republicans — almost entirely from House members — in the year since emerging on the scene. Rep. Robin Smith of Hixson, a former state GOP chair and then a freshman lawmaker, was a chief proponent of directing caucus business toward Phoenix Solutions.

Smith, newly elected Rep. Todd Warner (R-Chapel Hill), and former House Speaker Glen Casada (R-Franklin) had their homes and offices searched by federal agents. Smith and Casada have declined to answer questions about whether they or former aide Cade Cothren (whose home was also searched) had any financial ties to Phoenix Solutions.

A phone number for Phoenix Solutions listed in invoices filed with the Tennessee General Assembly is disconnected.

Absentee voting well ahead of 2016 primary, nearing level of last presidential election

Secretary of State Tre Hargett speaks with Rep. Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) before Gov. Bill Haslam’s final State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo credit: Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Requests for absentee ballots are well ahead of the number cast in the August 2016 primary and are already coming close to matching the levels of that year’s November presidential election, according to data gathered by The Tennessean‘s Joel Ebert and Carmel Kookogey.

The Secretary of State’s office said it doesn’t keep track of absentee ballot requests, referring the newspaper to local election commissions. The newspaper contacted officials in all 95 counties. Eighty provided information on how many mail-in ballots had been requested as of last week, nine refused to release data, and six did not respond.

A judge last month ordered the state to allow anyone who fears infection by the coronavirus to cast absentee ballots. The state is appealing that ruling, but it’s unlikely the Supreme Court will decide the issue before the Aug. 6 primary.

About 57,000 absentee ballots had been requested as of last week. That compares with about about 12,000 for the August 2016 primary and 64,000 for that year’s general election.

A look at the percentage difference between absentee ballot requests this year and the number cast in August and November 2016 follows after the jump.

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Deadline to register to vote in Aug. 6 primary is upon us

Image: Secretary of State’s office.

Tuesday is the deadline to register to vote for the Aug. 6 primary.

Registrations can be mailed or handed in to county election commissions or submitted online to through the Secretary of State’s website. Choosing the online route will make first-time voters ineligible to cast absentee ballots.

Early voting begins on July 17.

This year’s primary election includes a hard-fought contests for the Republican nominations to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Maryville) and U.S. Rep. Phil Roe (R-Johnson City). There’s also several open races and contested primaries for state House and Senate seats.

Read the full text of Gov. Bill Lee’s second State of the State address

Gov. Bill Lee delivers his second State of the State address in Nashville on Feb. 3, 2020. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Here is the full text of Gov. Bill Lee’s second State of the State Address, as prepared for delivery on Monday evening:

Lieutenant Governor McNally, Speaker Sexton, Speaker Pro Tem Haile, Speaker Pro Tem Dunn, Members of the 111th General Assembly, Justices, Constitutional Officers, fellow Tennesseans:

It is an honor to once again be with you this evening.

Before I begin, Speaker Sexton, let me offer special congratulations to you on your election as Speaker.

I am looking forward to working with you during this session and in the years ahead as we make our state a leader in the nation.

Last year, I stood at this podium, newly inaugurated as the 50th Governor of Tennessee. It has been a rewarding year, far more rewarding than I could have ever imagined.

To serve Tennesseans, to help make their lives better, to help give them a better education, to help recruit and create good jobs, and to help make our state a leader in the nation, it has been a humbling and truly honorable experience.

To serve with you, the men and women of the General Assembly, has been a tremendous honor as well.

Thank you for your support during my first year, it means an awful lot to Maria and to me.

With all of the noise in our nation these days, whether it comes from Washington, or New York, or Hollywood, I can’t help but look across this room in Tennessee and be inspired.

Inspired by every man and woman in this chamber who sacrifices much and who is dedicated to their beliefs and to the service of their neighbors.

Thank you for what you do, and I look forward to working alongside each of you this session and in the years ahead.

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The latest edition of the Blue Book is yellow

This year’s version of the Tennessee Blue Book honors the 100th anniversary of the state’s ratification of 19th Amendment granting women  the right to vote. The book’s cover is yellow — the color of the women’s suffrage movement. It’s the first time the bianniel volume has appeared in a non-blue cover since the 2013-2014 edition, which was orange to honor Lady Vols basketball coach Pat Summit. About half of that year’s edition appeared with the orange cover, while almost all of the newest version will appear in yellow.

Blue Books had white covers for much of the 1960s and early 1970s. They changed over to the familiar blue covers for in 1975.

Here’s the release from the Secretary of State’s office.

Nashville, Tenn. – The 2019-2020 edition of the Tennessee Blue Book, released this week, honors the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment granting women the right to vote.
 
Initially introduced to Congress in 1878, the 19th Amendment was not submitted to the states for ratification for 41 years. On August 18, 1920, Tennessee became the 36th (and final) state needed to ratify the 19th Amendment, thereby making women’s suffrage legal in the United States.
 
“This commemorative edition honors the steadfast efforts of Tennessee suffragists and the pivotal role Tennessee played in ratifying the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “It is fitting to dedicate our state’s official historical reference, the Tennessee Blue Book, to this significant milestone.”
 
The cover of the 2019-2020 Tennessee Blue Book is yellow, honoring the symbolic color of the national women’s suffrage movement.
 
Published every two years, the Tennessee Blue Book is the definitive manual on Tennessee state government. It features detailed information about all three branches of government, Tennessee state history, biographies of elected and appointed state officials, census data, election statistics, and more.
 
The 2019-2020 Blue Book, published by the Secretary of State’s office, is available free of charge to any Tennessee resident through members of the General Assembly or the Division of Publications at (615) 741-2650 or publications.information@tn.gov.
 
Previous editions of the Tennessee Blue Book can be viewed at sos.tn.gov.

Legislature reappoints 7 members of State Election Commission

State Sen. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) waits for Gov. Bill Haslam to deliver his final State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

A joint convention of the Tennessee General Assembly has reappointed the seven members of the state Election Commission.

The Republican appointees are Donna Barrett of Murfreesboro, Judy Blackburn of Morristown, Jimmy Wallace of Jackson, and Kent Younce of LaFollette. The Democrats are Greg Duckett of Memphis, Mike McDonald of Portland, and Tom Wheeler of Clinton. Barrett, McDonald and Wheeler are former state House members.

Here’s the full release from the Secretary of State’s office:

The State Election Commission is composed of seven members: four from the political party holding a majority of seats in the Tennessee General Assembly and three from the minority party. These individuals are elected for a term of four years. This is the only commission in Tennessee state government which is elected wholly by the Tennessee General Assembly.

The seven members elected by the Tennessee General Assembly on February 14, 2019 to serve a four-year term include Donna Barrett, Murfreesboro; Judy Blackburn, Morristown; Greg Duckett, Memphis; Mike McDonald, Portland; Jimmy Wallace, Jackson; Tom Wheeler, Clinton; and Kent Younce, LaFollette.

To be eligible to serve on the State Election Commission one must be at least 25 years old, a resident of Tennessee for at least seven years, and a resident of the grand division of the state from which one seeks election for at least four years preceding the election. No more than any two members may be from the same grand division of the state.

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Election officials to legislators: No major problem with voting fraud in TN — for now

At a Senate State and Local Government Committee hearing Tuesday, Tennessee election officials tried to allay legislator fears that the state’s voting records are vulnerable to hacking, reports WPLN. At the same time, they acknowledged there’s a significant risk that outside groups could try to disrupt future elections.

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Construction gets underway on new $124M TN Library and Archives building

Press release from Secretary of State’s office

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, along with Gov. Bill Haslam, Lt. Gov. Randy McNally (R-Oak Ridge), Speaker Beth Harwell (R-Nashville) and Tennessee State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill, officially broke ground on the new home of the Tennessee State Library and Archives Monday.

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Deceptive veterans charity dissolved after action in TN, other states

Press release from Secretary of State’s office

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery, III and law enforcement partners in 24 states announced a settlement with VietNow National Headquarters, Inc., an Illinois nonprofit corporation, resulting in the organization’s termination.

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