KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Two collectors in Knoxville are trying to figure out what do with their latest acquisition: about 260 ballots from the 1864 Presidential election, most of which were cast for Abraham Lincoln.
Cole Piper of Knoxville said he and collecting partner Andy Simon of Maryville would probably sort through the items to find the ones they want to keep and may offer the rest to others.
Piper told the Knoxville News Sentinel (full story, by Mal Alder, HERE) that he and Simon bid $8,000 to purchase the collection of ballots, which were auctioned in Maryville last month. He said finding more than one ballot from the election is rare.
Most of the votes went to Lincoln and his running mate, Andrew Johnson, but 32 went to Gen. George McClellan and his running mate, George Pendleton.
Nearly four out of five provisional ballots cast in Tennessee in November were tossed out, according to statewide data. The Tennessean says this indicates that measures meant to ensure all legitimate votes were included resulted in only a few more being counted. Only 1,623, or 23 percent, of the 7,097 paper provisional ballots cast by people who experienced trouble at the polls during the Nov. 6 general election were ruled legitimate by election officials, figures compiled by state election officials show.
The numbers suggest that at least some voters were disenfranchised by steps Republicans took before the 2012 elections, opponents say.
“People ought not to have to fight to vote in a democratic society,” said George Barrett, a Nashville civil rights attorney who is challenging the state’s photo identification law.
Republicans pushed the law through the legislature in 2011 as part of a nationwide attempt to ensure voter integrity, but Barrett and others have called it an attempt to deter voting among traditionally Democratic constituencies.
Election officials say the figures also show that only two-tenths of 1 percent of the 2.4 million Tennesseans who cast ballots in November actually ran into problems when they went to vote, which they take as an indication that the voter ID law worked how it was supposed to.
“I’d like to get to the point where it’s even lower,” said Mark Goins, Tennessee’s coordinator of elections, “but I’ll take this number when you look at the full scale of things.”
By Travis Lollar, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — A public interest group in Nashville is calling for an investigation into the Aug. 2 Davidson County primary after several prominent Democrats were given Republican ballots.
Tennessee Citizen Action Director Mary Mancini provided reporters on Monday with copies of an Aug. 9 letter from Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall to Davidson County Elections Administrator Albert Tieche.
“I have always been asked which primary I choose to vote in and this time I wasn’t provided that opportunity,” he wrote. “Additionally, I understand from you that the system was set to default to Republican if no one asked or the workers did not change it to vote in the Democratic primary.”
State Elections Coordinator Mark Goins said in an interview that the problem was not exactly a default ballot, but that the choice of a Republican ballot was highlighted on the computer screen poll workers used. Some poll workers must have pressed the highlighted selection without thinking, he said.
According to WPLN, 285 Tennessee voters saw their ballots put on hold in the state primaries Tuesday because they didn’t have proper photo ID under a new law – and some of those votes won’t be counted. Voters without the required ID were instead allowed to cast provisional ballots. Those ballots were set aside, while voters had two days to come back with an ID to make them count How many voters did so isn’t clear yet, but State Election Coordinator Mark Goins says some didn’t bother.
“Of course, some individuals may not return because their candidate won. If their candidate won they’re more likely to not return, or if there’s a wide margin separating those candidates.”
Goins also says impersonators trying to vote under an assumed name might not come back over a provisional ballot, noting the new law is meant to prevent voter fraud. Critics have argued that kind of fraud is more rare than being struck by lightning, and that the requirement might have steered some voters away, without even casting a provisional ballot.
Goins says the 285 provisional ballots cast is miniscule given the more than 620 thousand Tennesseans that voted. For all the concerns over the new ID requirement, Goins says, “the sky didn’t fall.”