NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Division of Elections is helping the Tennessee Disability Coalition with a project aimed at improving ballot access.
The division will be sharing information with the coalition about voting equipment and training.
The coalition is part of the Research Alliance for Accessible Voting, which recently was awarded a grant by the federal Election Assistance Commission to study methods for improving ballot access.
Secretary of State Tre Hargett said the state has a strong record in ensuring access for disabled voters.
News release from Secretary of State’s office:
Secretary of State Tre Hargett announced the nine Republican candidates and one Democrat who are scheduled to compete in Tennesee’s March 6 presidential preference primary elections.
Secretary Hargett announced the candidates’ names during a State Election Commission meeting this afternoon.
The Republican candidates are: Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Charles “Buddy” Roemer, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. The lone Democrat is President Barack Obama.
Any of the listed candidates who do not wish to participate in the Tennessee primaries have until noon Dec. 13 to withdraw, otherwise their names will appear on the ballot.
From the AP: Hargett said Herman Cain’s suspension of his campaign caused some confusion over whether he would be listed on the ballot.
Hargett said he reached lawyers for the Cain campaign who confirmed that his name was to be taken off the ballot.
Note: The state Republican party was quick to do its on news release on this — it actually arrived in my inbox before the secretary of state’s handout — and, naturally, gets in a jab at President Obama. It’s below.
News release from Secretary of State’s office:
As part of an ongoing effort to inform voters about a new law that will require them to show valid photo identification at the polls, election officials in all 95 Tennessee counties will be hosting outreach programs Nov. 1. State election officials believe this is the first time in Tennessee history voter outreach programs have been conducted in all 95 counties on the same day.
The formats may vary from county to county, but most are hosting town hall meetings where citizens can ask questions about the new law.
A list with the time and location of each county’s event can be viewed at http://tnsos.net/Elections/voterid/PresentationsList.php.
The law, which takes effect Jan. 1, requires people to show a valid state or federal government-issued photo ID in order to vote. Examples of acceptable forms of ID include driver licenses, U.S. passports, Department of Safety photo ID cards, U.S. military photo IDs and state or federal government photo ID cards. College student IDs are not acceptable.
There are a number of safeguards in the law to ensure eligible voters are not disenfranchised. The photo ID requirement does not apply to:
•People who vote absentee by mail
•People who vote in licensed nursing homes or assisted living facilities
•People who are hospitalized
•People who have religious objections to being photographed
•People who are indigent and cannot obtain photo IDs without paying fees
Voters who forget to bring photo identification to the polls may cast provisional ballots and return to their local election offices with proof of their identities within two business days after elections.
“I commend our election commissions and administrators of elections for working hard to spread the word about this new law,” Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. “To my knowledge, nothing like this has ever been done before. This outreach campaign is massive and certain to reach a tremendous number of voters.”
For more information about the new law, contact the state Division of Elections at 1-877-850-4959 or your local election commission office.
State election officials plan to aggressively promote all aspects of Tennessee’s new law requiring voters to present photo identification in order to vote, reports Mike Morrow.
Secretary of State Tre Hargett, whose office oversees elections in the state, among many other duties, talked with Mark Goins, state elections coordinator, last week about plans to get the word out about the new law.
…Hargett said his office will be active through public service announcements, getting election officials out to various civic organizations to spread the word and working through the media, including issuing press releases, on the new law. Hargett also said when the state publishes ballots next year, his office wants to make sure the new requirements are published along with them.
“I want to focus on areas where some have claimed this law would treat the elderly, or people who may be poor, unfairly,” Hargett said. “I want to make sure we approach a wide, diverse group of people, everywhere possible.”
The House passed the bill 57-35, the Senate 21-11. Most Democrats opposed the bill, saying hundreds of thousands of Tennesseans do not have photo IDs.
“On the surface, this doesn’t seem like a bad idea. After all, we all want open, free and fair elections, but like so many issues the devil is in the details,” House Democratic Leader Craig Fitzhugh wrote on his blog.
“Take for example the impact this legislation will have on rural communities. In Tennessee, only 44% of our counties have a driver’s license station. In our district, we only have one station for all three of our counties, while areas like Nashville & Memphis have multiple DMV’s. This makes it easier for people in cities to obtain a photo ID and vote, while some people in rural areas will have to travel 30 miles or better just to get an ID.”
During debate on the bill in the Legislature, opponents likened it to a “poll tax” which could be construed as an effort to stunt voter participation. Proposals for alternative approaches, such as showing a Medicare card, were shot down.
But in an effort to address constitutional concerns, the Legislature passed SB1666, which provides photo IDs for free for Tennesseans who need them.
Voters must sign an affidavit to obtain the photo ID. The IDs will be handled by the Department of Safety. The act is expected to result in additional state spending of $422,574 for fiscal year 2011-12 and every five years thereafter, since photo IDs expire every five years. It will also involve a one-time increase in spending of $15,500 for computer and programming costs.
Meanwhile, 16 Democratic U.S. senators have asked the U.S. Department of Justice to look at whether states’ photo ID laws infringe on voting rights.
Hargett said he is hopeful the new law can withstand any legal challenge and that his office can focus on the law as it currently stands. When asked by former congressional candidate Lonnie Spivak if there were a chance to have photos placed on voter registration cards, Hargett said he didn’t think the state had the money or the capacity to do that at this time, although he liked the concept.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Sports agents who prey on school athletes in Tennessee could face prison time under legislation recently signed by Gov. Bill Haslam.
The law, which the Republican governor signed earlier this month, is part of a trend nationwide to keep athletes from receiving compensation or favors from schools, boosters or agents.
The Tennessean reports that the law gives state officials the power to investigate such allegations and impose criminal penalties on anyone who performs the services of a sports agent.
The law requires anyone who claims to be an agent in Tennessee to register with the Department of State, which already regulates the agents who represent professional athletes. Failing to do so could result in a penalty of as much as $25,000 and up to six years in prison.
Chas Sisk observes that Secretary of State Tre Hargett has been criss-crossing the state, making speeches at political events, rather like a candidate for statewide office.
In all, Hargett has spoken eight times on the Republican lecture circuit this year, with a ninth on the calendar later this month. For a candidate running for public office, it wouldn’t be much of a load. Except Hargett isn’t running for any political office. At least not yet.
Hargett’s schedule of public appearances — while holding an office that has previously cut a low profile — has sparked speculation that the 42-year-old former House Republican leader might be planning a run for higher office.
Hargett says he is just trying to tell Tennesseans about what his office does. But at least some of the speaking invitations have come from people who believe Hargett has the skills to run for Congress or the governorship.
“He would be a great candidate for our state,” said Wayne Sellars, past president of the Concord/Farragut Area Republican Club, which invited Hargett to speak in March.
By Erik Schelzig
NASHVILLE — Republicans are balking at a Democratic senator’s proposal to make it easier for minor parties to be listed on the Tennessee ballot.
Democratic Senate Minority Leader Jim Kyle of Memphis wants to set a threshold of 10,000 signatures from eligible voters for a third party to be recognized in the state, down from a GOP proposal of about 40,000 signatures from registered voters.
“My goal is to allow people who believe they’re in the Tea Party or the Green Party or the Liberation Party to get on the ballot,” Kyle said. “Any organization that can get 10,000 signatures is as legitimate a political entity as any other.
“People should be able to stand up there and say I believe in these principles,” he said. “I just think democracy works better when the rules are fair.”
Republican House Majority Leader Gerald McCormick of Chattanooga said he’s concerned about fracturing Tennessee’s political landscape.
“I don’t want to see us become like Italy and have a dozen different parties and all these splinter groups, and have to make coalitions with them,” said the Chattanooga Republican. “So I think the standard ought to be high.”
The new Tennessee Blue Book is now being distributed by state legislators. It’s the first published under a Republican secretary of state, Tre Hargett, who – in keeping with a tradition established by his Democratic predecessors – has his name on the cover.
Hargett also takes up the first page of the new 2009-2010 edition with a letter dedicating the book to Tennesseans who have died “in our nation’s War on Terror.” There follow almost three pages of names.
According to Blake Fontenay, spokesman for Hargett, a total of 54,600 copies were printed at a cost of $4.21 each. That’s about$230,000.
The edition is also the first to contain biographies of legislators elected to their first terms in 2008. As Jeff Woods notes in a Nashville Scene blog post, it also makes mention of a legislator who departed in 2009 after a scandal over his sexual affair with a legislative intern – former state Sen. Paul Stanley of Germantown.
Paul Stanley is now the Roger Maris of Tennessee politics. There’s an asterisk by his name.
* Paul Stanley resigned from the Senate effective August 10, 2009.
That’s it. There’s no explanation, although there’s a big glob of white space below the asterisk. Schoolchildren across the state will scratch their heads in puzzlement over this for centuries to come. Why did Paul Stanley resign? they will ask. There was room in Stanley’s bio graf to state right at the beginning that he’s an evangelical Christian. So that’s good to know.