Former Congressman Lincoln Davis Turned Away from Voting

Former Congressman Lincoln Davis says he was denied the right to vote Tuesday in his native Fentress County, where he has been casting ballots since 1964.
“If I had moved here from somewhere else recently, maybe I could understand it,” said Democrat Davis. “But a former congressman, a former state senator and a civic leader… and nobody even notified me I’d been taken off the rolls?”
“Now I know how the black man must have felt a hundred years ago,” he said in a telephone call to a reporter.
Davis said he arrived at his usual voting place near his home in the Pall Mall community about an hour before the polls closed and was told by election officials he was not registered in the county and could not vote. Davis said he contacted state Election Coordinator Mark Goins, who let the decision of local officials stand.
The former congressman, who was defeated by Republican Scott DesJarlais in a bid for reelection in 2010, said he was told that he was registered to vote in adjoining Pickett County and could not vote in two counties.
Actually, Davis said he is registered to vote only in Byrdstown city elections and can do so legally since he owns property in the city, which is located in Fentress County and which he once served as mayor.
Davis said Tennessee has made it easier to vote in the past, being the final state approving women’s suffrage in 1920 and being a pioneer state in authorizing early voting.
“Why is it now that we’re making it harder for people to vote?” he said.
Blake Fontenay, a spokesman for the Secretary of State’s office and Goins, said the rejection of Davis as a voter was “regrettable and something we certainly did not want to see happen.”
“The bottom line on this one is we’re going to have to investigate to see what happened here,” Fontenay said. “How and why he got purged in Fentress County we don’t know yet.”
Fontenay said Goins advised Davis to cast a provisional ballot, but apparently the polls had closed before the former congressman could return to do so.

UPDATE: Goins says he called Davis Tuesday evening after the former congressman had already talked at some length to Fentress County Election Administrator Joey Williams. Goins said both men urged Davis to return quickly to his precinct to cast a provisional ballot.
“He did not seem interested in voting provisional,” said Goins. “I kept saying, ‘Get down there and vote’. We can handle this.”
Goins said he was not certain of the time he talked with Davis, though it may have been about 6:20 p.m., which could have left time for Davis to get back to the polls.
A provisional vote allows a person to cast his or her ballot with a decision made later on whether it will be counted.
Goins said Davis appears on records as a registered voter for general elections in Pickett County, not just as a Byrdstown city voter, and was purged from Fentress County rolls. He said officials would look into details of the situation Wednesday.
“It’s not a situation where we were denying him the right to vote,” Goins said. “We’ve just got to figure this out.”

9 thoughts on “Former Congressman Lincoln Davis Turned Away from Voting

  1. Rural_Progress

    Someone who is denied the constitutional rights is a “cry-baby” simply because you don’t agree with their politics? Seriously? It amazes me everyday that our country has lasted as long as we have. Pathetic, but hey – attitudes like yours are more than welcome in “The new Old South”.

  2. Kay Brooks

    PROVISIONAL Ballot folks. If there is ever a question ask for a provisional ballot. How stupid of him not to have even thought of it at the time. Seriously, how does a such an experienced politician as Davis not think to ask for one or not have a “Doh” moment when Goins reminds him? This isn’t the system’s fault. It’s all on Davis.

  3. Eric Holcombe

    Aw, c’mon Stacey, you know Lincoln’s an “Independent Conservative” now:



    He was probably going to help push Santa over the top (with no delegates). I now own property in three TN counties, how many times should I get to vote, ’cause I think I’ve really been shortchanging myself only voting once all this time.

  4. Donna Locke

    Yeah, I didn’t know we could vote everywhere we own property. That could get confusing.
    Davis should have known he could ask for a provisional ballot. Politicians always leave us wondering what else they don’t know.

  5. Edward griffitts

    now you have to play by the rules,you dems made them up as you went along,now the election laws are followed to the letter,be right or go home,nobody had better do any thing for you THAT WOULDN’T do for any voter as long as its the law..IT’S A NEW DAY?

  6. Edward griffitts

    now you have to play by the rules,you dems made them up as you went along,now the election laws are followed to the letter,be right or go home,nobody had better do any thing for you THAT WOULDN’T do for any voter as long as its the law..IT’S A NEW DAY?

  7. Gail Toffey

    States need to be careful about denying citizens the vote or elections may have to come under federal control. Right now Florida is being sued by the Justice Dept. for purging voters illegally. Bad news when you tamper with a citizen’s RIGHT TO VOTE!!!

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