A spokesman for Tennessee Secretary of State Tré Hargett and state Election Coordinator Mark Goins said Sunday both welcome a settlement reached last week in a legal dispute involving state voter files, reports the Chattanooga TFP. Tennessee Democratic Party officials say their data experts found full or partial voter histories missing for about 11,000 state-maintained voter files they obtained last month. The assertions were introduced in federal court Friday in a lawsuit filed by Democrats and former Democratic U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, who was turned away from the polls in the March primary.
“We’re actually very happy with this settlement,” spokesman Blake Fontenay said in a telephone message on behalf of Hargett and Goins, both Republicans.
“Just like we offered to let you look at voter files to verify they’re not missing, we’re happy to let a special master come in to do that and we welcome the opportunity. … We want to be transparent.”
Judges sometimes appoint special masters in complex civil cases where their expertise would assist the court. The Times Free Press reported Sunday that U.S. District Judge Kevin Sharp requested both sides agree to a proposed consent decree. They did so Friday night, and it will be submitted to the court this week.
Tennessee Democrats say their analysis of Secretary of State records shows more than 11,000 voters across the state have parts or even all of their voting histories “disappear” between December and last month, reports Andy Sher. Democrats call the entire issue “troubling” and warn it could lead to some voters getting unfairly purged from voting lists. State Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester earlier this week fired off a letter to State Election Coordinator Mark Goins, a Republican, asking for a “full and detailed explanation” as well as an “independent review … to ensure there are not more missing voting records or systemic flaws” in the state’s voter files.
“As you are undoubtedly aware, an inactive voting history can lead to a voter being purged from the rolls,” Forrester warned. “Failure to maintain adequate voting records can have the pernicious consequence of disenfranchising” legitimate voters.
Tennessee law says election officials can purge voters who haven’t voted in the past two federal elections if they do not respond later to an address confirmation notice. Some lost their 2008 and 2010 history. Tennessee has some 3.9 million registered voters.
A blogger’s report on the voting history of 488 Shelby County voters being erased — a move that could lead to purging their names from voter registration lists — has led to a local election commission investigation and a call for investigations at the state and federal level, reports Jackson Baker. Allegations from (blogger Bev) Harris last week that hundreds of Shelby County voters — almost all black Democrats — have had their voting history erased have put Election Commission officials on the defensive and prompted a demand from 9th District congressman Steve Cohen Sunday that the U.S. Department of Justice and Tennessee State Election Coordinator Mark Goins look into her charges.
“The ballot must remain free and open to all,” said Cohen, who had made similar requests for DOJ scrutiny following a glitch in the August 2010 countywide election that caused several hundred voters to be turned away, at least temporarily, after an erroneous early-voting list had been fed into the county’s electronic voting log.
Subsequently, a slate of losing Democratic candidates in that election filed suit to force new elections, and Harris was one of several consultants called in to aid the litigants. She helped prepare a comprehensive list of alleged irregularities but was not recognized as a proper authority by Chancellor Arnold Goldin, nor did attorneys for the plaintiffs avail themselves of her most sensational accusations, some of which imputed illegal intentions to the Election Commission. Goldin would ultimately dismiss the suit summarily.
Harris, whose Black Box Voting blog attempts to monitor election irregularities nationwide, has remained in touch with Shelby County Democrats who are appealing that decision and has stepped-up her attentions to local voting issues of late.
A month or so ago, she contacted members of the Shelby County Election Commission and the news media with a list of largely recycled allegations concerning the 2010 elections. These attracted little note, but she got everybody’s attention with her new charges last week that the prior voting history of 488 Shelby Countians, whom she listed by name, had been inexplicably erased on an Election Commission “all details” list of registered voters of a sort that is issued monthly. Almost all of the voters on the list were African American Democrats, and the absence of a voting history could make such voters legal fodder for a purge list, Harris said. Note: Harris blog HERE.