NASHVILLE, TN – Today, the Tennessee Republican Party State Executive Committee, acting in its role as the state primary board voted to uphold the primary election results in State House District 71 and Congressional District 9.
Election contests from Shirley Curry in State House District 71 and Charlotte Bergmann in Congressional District 9 were reviewed by a state primary board subcommittee which was appointed by Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney.
(Note: Curry lost to Rep. Vance Dennis, R-Savannah, by four votes, according to unofficial returns. Bergmann lost to George Flinn by about 7,000 votes.)
The subcommittee unanimously recommended to the full committee that both election contests be dismissed based on their review of the election contests.
“I appreciate the hard work and diligence of the state primary board subcommittee in reviewing these contests thoroughly and fairly,” said Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney.
“This review process proved that our procedures work when it comes to ensuring that we maintain the integrity of our electoral process. We are all united in our goal to defeat President Obama and Tennessee Democrats as we head toward November,” concluded Devaney.
Tennessee taxpayers will fork over an estimated $4.5 million this week administering elections for the two major parties, observes Andrea Zelenski, but as a matter of state law, the decision as to who can and cannot participate in the partisan festivities is ultimately left to party officials and not the government That reality of the fundamentally rigged nature of Tennessee’s primary system was on display recently in Rhea County, where election judges turned away at least 10 voters this month for trying to vote in a primary election in which they were deemed by local GOP bigwigs as not “bona fide” members of the Party of Lincoln.
…Tennessee GOP chairman Chris Devaney indicated the party’s primary concern in the primary is promoting long-term partisan fidelity.
“We encourage people who have good intentions, Democrats, independents, to come over and vote in our primary if they intend to stay,” said Devaney when asked about the voter challenges in Dayton, a town of 7,000 people.
“But I don’t want people voting in our primary if they just want to manipulate the election,” he said.
Tennessee’s primary election system is technically open, allowing anyone to cast a vote in any primary. But the fine print of the law gives political parties the power to challenge and discount an individual’s vote if they are not “a bona fide member of and affiliated with the political party in whose primary the voter seeks to vote.”
Voters can get around that law only if they have “declared allegiance to the political party in whose primary the voter seeks to vote and (stated) that the voter intends to affiliate with that party.” If party election officials are convinced, voters can cast a ballot. Otherwise, those voters cast a rejected ballot that party leaders decide later whether to count.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation confirmed Wednesday that it has launched a probe into whether Rhea County election officials illegally blocked voters believed to be Democrats from voting in the Republican primary election.
Theresa Snyder, the county election administrator, said she and other officials did nothing wrong and were following state law. They took an active stance to block known Democrats from voting in the GOP primary because of an orchestrated campaign for crossover voting in the House District 31 primary, she said.
Snyder said some Democrats are openly supporting Ron Travis, who is challenging state Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City, for the seat. The county Democratic chairman, Doris Roy, said there is no orchestrated campaign and that she has heard from Democrats who intend to vote for Cobb as well as some saying they prefer Travis.
“I am staying out of it,” Roy said. “I just tell everybody to vote their conscience.”
There is no Democrat seeking the office, so the election will effectively be decided in the Aug. 2 primary. Early voting in the primary began July 13 and continues through Saturday.
Ten voters with a history of voting in Democratic primaries have been challenged, Snyder said, including Maxine Vincent, wife of Dayton Mayor Bob Vincent. Nine, including Vincent, were declared ineligible to vote by a three-member Republican panel, she said. In the remaining case, the judges decided the woman in question was eligible.