News release from Secretary of State’s office:
ANCHORAGE, AK – The National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), currently holding its annual summer conference in Anchorage, Alaska, today inducted its new slate of national officers for the 2013-2014 cycle. Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett will serve as president of the professional organization for state officials through July 2014, marking the first time in more than three decades that a Tennessee official has held this position.
“I look forward to continuing the strong leadership that my predecessors have provided to NASS for almost 110 years,” said Hargett of Tennessee. “Now more than ever, citizens are looking for collaborative bipartisan leadership from their state officials. Citizens are counting on us to lead the way in developing and sharing best practices for running honest and efficient elections, for increasing voter turnout and civic awareness and for protecting our people and our businesses from unnecessary federal laws and regulations.”
Hargett added that under his leadership, NASS will continue to serve as a forum where members can learn from each other how best to provide the services their offices are charged with delivering to the public.
News release from Secretary of State’s office:
It has endured an army occupation, the interment of two of its founding fathers, and a car cruising through its hallways. Not to mention its role as the site of many of the most important events in Tennessee’s history. The Tennessee State Capitol building has many great stories to tell – and some of those stories were revealed in a documentary about the building that premiered last week. In attendance were state legislators, department commissioners, representatives from preservation groups and others.
The documentary was created by the staff of the Tennessee State Library and Archives. It is the first part of a project that will eventually include a virtual tour of the Capitol building and its grounds, and feature stories about the building and influential people in Tennessee history.
When completed, the entire project will be burned onto DVDs that will be distributed to schools throughout the state.
The project is a result of the Tennessee General Assembly’s approval of Public Chapter No. 557, sponsored by Representative Jim Coley and Senator Ken Yager.
“I appreciate the support of the Tennessee General Assembly in the passage of Public Chapter No. 557, which has led us to the creation of a comprehensive digital record of the Tennessee State Capitol’s history,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “That history will be available to people now and in the future – 24 hours a day, seven days a week and free of charge – over the Internet. There are many things about the Capitol’s history that will surprise people. This building doesn’t have its own Trivial Pursuit game, but it could.”
“The mission of the State Library and Archives is to preserve Tennessee’s history for everyone,” State Librarian and Archivist Chuck Sherrill said. “This video draws on some of the vast treasures contained in our archives to tell the story of the Capitol building.”
The original cornerstone of the Capitol building was laid on July 4, 1845. In the 14 years that followed, architect William Strickland – with assistance from Samuel Morgan, Francis Strickland and Harvey Ackroyd – designed and oversaw the building that is still in use today. Although the Capitol has gone through various renovations over nearly 170 years, many of the building’s original characteristics are unchanged. This historical national landmark is one of the nation’s oldest working statehouses still in use.
The documentary and information on the images used in the film are available at www.capitol.tnsos.net. Additionally, the virtual tour, mini-features, and fun stories about the Tennessee State Capitol will be available soon.
A Johnson City man was indicted by a federal grand jury Thursday in Nashville on 10 counts of sending threatening letters, including to Gov. Bill Haslam, that falsely claimed they contained anthrax, reports The Tennessean. Branden Frady, 32, is accused of sending six threatening letters between Sept. 10 and Sept. 18 to government officials from his prison cell at Riverbend Maximum Security Institute in Nashville.
Four of the six letters contained white powder that Frady claimed was anthrax, a deadly bacteria used in a series of bioterrorism attacks after Sept. 11, 2001. But none of the letters actually contained the deadly spores.
The letters were sent to Haslam, Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, the U.S. Post Office and an assistant district attorney general for the 20th Judicial District of Tennessee in Nashville. The letters also made explicit death threats against the officials, according to Martin.
“Threats involving the use of weapons of mass destruction cause significant disruption in the workplace and to government operations,” the U.S. attorney (Jerry E. Martin) said in a news release. “Such threats often exhaust public safety resources and cause needless harm to the public. For those who choose to engage in such conduct, the U.S. Attorney’s office and our law enforcement partners will act swiftly to neutralize the threat, identify those responsible and bring them to justice.”
In one alleged incident in September, Frady sent a letter to the Office of the District Attorney General that contained a white powder substance. The letter contained statements such as, “Here is some anthrax,” “You got to die” and “I will kill you.”
…The letter to Haslam contained threats but no white powder. A second letter to Haslam said, “This time I am sending you some anthrax” and “You will die.” The letter did not contain a white powder.
Joint news release from House and Senate Republican Caucuses:
(NASHVILLE) – In a joint session of the Tennessee Senate and the Tennessee House of Representatives today members unanimously re-elected Secretary of State Tre Hargett, Treasurer David H. Lillard, Jr. and Comptroller Justin P. Wilson. Secretary Hargett will serve his second four-year term, while Treasurer Lillard and Comptroller Wilson will each serve two-year terms. All three were originally elected to their posts by the General Assembly in January, 2009. Treasurer Lillard and Comptroller Wilson were re-elected to their second two-year terms in January, 2011.
Senate and House leaders congratulated the Constitutional Officers today, and released the following statements:
“While many Tennesseans don’t know what they do, the constitutional officers are really the unsung heroes of state government. They work – often behind the scenes but sometimes in the harsh glare of the media spotlight – to make sure that our state’s investments are managed properly, that public employees have a financially sound retirement system, that taxpayer money isn’t wasted, stolen or misused at the local or state levels of government, that local governments get the assistance they need to be successful in various levels of their operations, that our elections run smoothly, that our public libraries have the support they need to provide excellent service to Tennesseans. Tennesseans are lucky to have leaders like Comptroller Wilson, Treasurer Lillard and Secretary of State Hargett overseeing these essential services of state government.” -Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey
“Tennessee is in excellent financial condition – and the work of our three constitutional officers has played no small part in that. As members of the State Funding Board, they set revenue estimates that are used by the governor, his staff and members of the General Assembly for budget planning purposes. They also appear regularly before the major rating agencies that determine how strong Tennessee’s credit ratings will be. They also provide helpful advice and information to help members of the General Assembly do their jobs better.” -House Speaker Beth Harwell
“I am very proud of the work Treasurer Lillard, Comptroller Wilson and Secretary of State Hargett have done over the last four years. They have made many major improvements to make Tennessee state government work more efficiently and effectively which benefits all Tennesseans. All three of these public servants are well deserving of another term in office.” -Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris
“Reforming government is something that’s easy to talk about, but difficult to do. These three constitutional officers have spent the last four years challenging traditional thinking about the way their offices should operate and, as a result, their offices are operating more efficiently and effectively than ever before. They have made the offices more accessible by making more services available over the Internet and have found ways to maximize the productivity of their employees.” -House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick.
News release from Secretary of State’s Office:
Voting and paying tribute to our nation’s active and retired armed services personnel are two of the most patriotic acts citizens can perform. A new program launched by the Secretary of State’s Office this week allows people to tie the two together.
Secretary of State Tre Hargett announced the “Tennessee Honor Vote” program, which will provide citizens with an opportunity to dedicate their votes in the upcoming election to the servicemen and servicewomen of their choice.
A new page has been developed on the Secretary of State’s web site where people may sign up and dedicate a personal message to one or more active or retired members of the armed forces.
Democrats in the state legislature and state election officials exchanged letters Tuesday over problems in the Aug. 2 election with election officials saying they were mostly confined to Shelby County.
Excerpt from the CA report (which also has a lot on the Shelby County back-and-forth): Tuesday’s developments were the latest in an ongoing story about issues in the Aug. 2 state primaries, county general elections and municipal referendums.
A letter to Hargett signed by 25 of the 34 Democrats in the House on Tuesday expressed “great concern” about problems ranging from voters being issued incorrect ballots to people who the letter says had proper identification not being allowed to vote.
The letter asked Hargett, whose department includes the state election coordinator’s office, how many people were not given a correct ballot and not allowed to vote in their “preferred primary or rightful district,” whether there is a uniform procedure at voting locations that voters are aware of and obtain the correct ballot, and how many were denied ballots because of ID issues.
Goins responded by saying the “problems in Shelby County have been well documented … (and) outside of Shelby County, we are aware of only a handful of isolated incidents, mostly involving poll worker error.”
Goins said 277 people statewide cast provisional ballots because they lacked proper photo ID, and 115 of them were counted in the election because voters returned within two business days of election day with proper IDs. The other 162 were not counted.
— Update Note: Fitzhugh and Turner didn’t think much of Goins response to their first letter. See below.
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.
State Sen. Jim Kyle of Memphis asked the Tennessee secretary of state on Wednesday to conduct a “formal investigation” into allegations that the voting histories of 488 Shelby County registered voters were deleted from Election Commission records, reports the Commercial Appeal. Critics are concerned that such deletions could pave the way for the purging of those voters’ names from the official rolls. The Senate Democratic leader’s letter follows a similar request by U.S. Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., for investigations by U.S. Atty. Gen. Eric Holder and Tennessee Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins into the allegations originally made by voting rights activist Bev Harris, whose Black Box Voting website monitors irregularities with voters nationwide. (Note: Previous post HERE) …Hargett, in a media statement in response to Kyle’s letter, said that his office “began our investigation as soon as we heard about this matter. We want to assure Leader Kyle and everyone involved that we take these matters very seriously. We keep the database of official voters at the state and no voter histories have been deleted in Shelby County.”
“We have checked the list of those who believed their data had been deleted, and all have (a voting) history. No one on the list was scheduled to be purged because of inactivity. If they had been scheduled to be purged, they would have received confirmation notices,” Hargett said.
Hargett’s spokesman, Blake Fontenay, said the state is “still trying to figure out how people got data that appeared to show the histories as erased.”
Tennessee Secretary of State Tré Hargett’s office spent more than $42,000 this month to send letters cautioning 118,268 older Tennessee voters that they must have government-issued photo identification to vote in the March 6 primary, according to Andy Sher. “Dear Voter,” Hargett says in letters mailed out as early voting in presidential primaries began Feb. 15. “The Tennessee General Assembly has adopted a new law regarding identification needed to vote beginning with the 2012 election cycle.
“When you vote in person, either during early voting or on Election Day, you must present identification which contains your name and photo,” wrote Hargett, a Republican who backed the law. “To be valid, this photo ID must have been issued by a state or federal government.”
The letters were mailed to voters 60 and over who under another Tennessee law have not been required to have photos on their driver licenses.
In an email response to questions posed by the Chattanooga Times Free Press, Hargett spokesman Blake Fontenay said postage for the letters cost the Secretary of State’s office $42,480.09.
“We don’t have the production cost yet because we haven’t yet received a bill,” Fontenay said.
When the Republican-backed bill passed the legislature last year, it wasn’t supposed to cost taxpayers much of anything, according to a fiscal note prepared by legislative analysts.
“The secretary of state will not require additional resources to implement the photographic identification requirement,” the memo said.
News release from secretary of state’s office:
Waynesboro made history Tuesday by holding the first election since Tennessee’s voter photo identification law went into effect.
Although there are some exceptions, the law generally requires voters to show valid photo identification before casting their ballots. The purpose of the new law, which took effect Jan. 1, is to safeguard against a type of election fraud known as voter impersonation.
In all, 354 voters cast ballots in the Waynesboro city election, including 37 who voted absentee.
As expected, there were no problems related to the implementation of the new law.
“The successful election in Waynesboro demonstrates the hard work election officials have put forth in implementing the law,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “Most people understand why it’s important that poll workers be sure that the people casting ballots are who they say they are. And most voters don’t mind showing photo IDs, as they must do in order to perform many tasks in everyday life. I commend Wayne County election officials for their hard work in making this election such a success.”
The first statewide election under the photo ID law will be the March 6 presidential primary.
Acceptable forms of identification, current or expired, include:
•A driver license, provided it has a photo
•A United States passport
•A photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security
•A photo ID issued by the federal or any state government
•A United States military photo ID
•A gun permit with a photo
College student IDs are not acceptable.
Voters who forget to bring photo IDs to the polls can cast provisional ballots, then go to their county election commission offices within two business days with proper proof of identity.
Photo IDs are not required for people who vote absentee or are voting from a hospital, nursing home or assisted living facility. People who are unable to afford the cost of obtaining a photo ID or have religious objections to being photographed are exempted from the law.
For questions about the law, visit www.GoVoteTN.com or call toll free 1-877-850-4959.