An election worker has been dismissed after six people voted twice in Davidson County last week and an election commissioner says she could refuse to approve the results unless questions are answered about reports of wider irregularities, according to The Tennessean.
Staffers blame a clerical error for letting half a dozen people vote twice, once during early voting and again on Election Day. But Commissioner Tricia Herzfeld says that mistake — and potentially others — are serious enough that she may not agree to certify the results at the commission’s next meeting on May 19.
In a letter to election administrator Kent Wall sent Monday, Herzfeld also criticized fellow commissioners and staff for not talking about potential irregularities, including the possibility that some people were not allowed to vote.
“The public has a right to be informed of these discoveries and the candidates, in particular, deserve to know if anything that occurred on Election Day could impact their races,” Herzfeld wrote.
Officials have verified one irregularity: that electronic poll books were not updated by an outside vendor, Omaha-based Election Systems & Software LLC, to show that thousands of Davidson County voters had cast ballots during the early voting period. Election workers learned of the mistake on Election Day and informed state officials late that night.
Mark Goins, the state’s election administrator, said he has recommended referring the six voters to Davidson County prosecutors.
See also the Nashville Scene, which includes the text of Herzfeld’s letter, and comments from Wall:
Wall downplayed the significance of the snafu, pointing to procedures on the back-end of the election that meant officials knew about the issue the next day.
“The procedures were in place that this should not have happened on the front end, but because of human error, their side and ours, it did,” he says. “But we caught it.”
However, had the amount of double-votes been in the thousands — as they could have been — knowing about it after the fact would not have prevented the integrity of the entire election from being in question.
This is not the first time that Election Systems & Software (ES&S) has been at the center of voting problems in Nashville. In 2012, some voters intending to vote in Democratic primaries were given Republican ballots in error. ES&S machines have also been related to problems in Memphis, and other states as well. But Wall says it doesn’t cause him to question whether to continue contracting with the company.
“Any time you have a human action taken, there’s always a potential in anything you’re doing that something could go wrong here,” Wall says. “But ES&S has been supplying equipment and software around the United States for a long, long time, and they’re a big supplier of equipment in the state of Tennessee and they’re approved by the state of Tennessee to continue to use ES&S.”
Asked why he and other election officials apparently intended not to make the election-day issue public, Wall suggested their wasn’t much to share.
“There’s no story,” he says. “We know what happened, we know how it happened, we know the magnitude of it. I don’t know what we would’ve done differently in that circumstance.”