There were only two foulups in Davidson County voting on Super Tuesday, reports the City Paper, but one was bad enough to get a poll worker fired. (Voter Al) Wilkinson, a 45-year-old landscape architect, said he showed up on Election Day, March 6, at his assigned polling location, the Northside Church of Christ on Old Hickory Boulevard. He had forgotten his wallet, however, which contained his driver’s license.
“I was in a hurry,” Wilkinson said.
According to Wilkinson, the poll worker advised him to go to the Davidson County Election Commission office on Second Avenue the next day where he could show his ID and cast a ballot there.
But that wasn’t the correct protocol.
Under Tennessee’s new photo ID voting law, voters lacking a proper ID are to first vote provisional paper ballots. They then have two business days after the election to go to the election office to present a valid photo ID.
Failing to cast a provisional ballot, Wilkinson was unable to vote.
Albert Tieche, the county’s elections administrator, said he dismissed the poll worker the day after the election. “That officer doesn’t need to work again,” he said.
In a second voter ID incident, Tieche said a poll worker mistakenly had an elderly voter who lacked a photo ID vote on a machine instead of cast provisional paper ballot.
“He should have voted a paper provisional ballot, which would have been counted by the provisional ballot counting board,” Tieche said.
JAMESTOWN, Tenn. (AP) — Former Tennessee Congressman Lincoln Davis and his wife were turned away from their polling place thanks to a registration mix up.
Davis, who hasn’t missed an election since 1964, said when he was told he couldn’t vote, “I felt sick to my stomach.”
The situation was perplexing to Davis given his prominent status in the area. He not only served in Congress, but also represented the region in the state Senate and House of Representatives. He knows the poll workers and said the administrator of elections has a family farm that adjoins Davis’ own family farm.
“I see him out there feeding the cows,” Davis said.
Fentress County Elections Administrator Joey Williams said that in purging Davis and his wife elections officials acted on a notice received from the state that the couple had re-registered in neighboring Pickett County, where Davis once served as mayor in the county seat of Byrdstown.
The Administrator of Elections in Pickett County, Tim Clark, said the problem was on his end. Davis has voted in Pickett under the special category of property rights voter that allows him to vote in local elections only.
There are separate rolls for property rights voters and resident voters and Davis should have been only on the property rights voting rolls in Pickett County.
He lives in Fentress and should have been registered as a resident voter there for state and national elections, such as Tuesday’s presidential primary.
“It was a clerical error on our part,” Clark said. “We just messed up.”
The state Department of Elections on Wednesday issues an apology to Davis, but a spokesman also said Davis should have voted with a provisional ballot.
“I understand that he was very upset, and he had reason to be,” Blake Fontenay said, “but there was a remedy that he chose not to take.”
Davis was not offered a provisional ballot at the polling place, although after he went home and started making phone calls he was told he could go back in and vote with a provisional ballot.
Davis said he did not do that because he also was told he would have to re-register. Since registration has to take place in advance of voting, he worried that he would be accused of voter fraud and possibly have his voting privileges revoked.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Senate has voted to restore Tipton County to the upper chamber’s redistricting plan.
The West Tennessee county that is in Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris’ redrawn district, had been inadvertently omitted by the upper chamber when it passed its plan last week.
The Senate voted 22-10 on Thursday to approve a fix made earlier in the House. All votes against the measure came from Democrats.
Democrats have blamed what they call the overly hasty adoption of the GOP redistricting plan for causing the error.
The plan now heads for the signature of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam, who is expected to sign it into law.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Thought Tennessee’s arduous redistricting process was over? Not so fast.
Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris confirmed to The Associated Press on Tuesday that Tipton County was inadvertently omitted from the upper chamber’s redistricting measure passed last week. The missing county is part of Norris’ redrawn Senate district.
The Legislature will need to pass the measure again to correct the error, Norris said. The Collierville Republican said the mistake was caught before the measure was sent to the governor for his signature, meaning lawmakers can move to reconsider their previous action.
“If it had received his signature already, that would have been problematic,” Norris said.
The language of the bill lists the areas of Shelby County that Norris would represent, but fails to mention Tipton County. Norris said it was a technical mistake akin to a typographical error but that he wanted to go through all the legislative motions again to ensure accuracy in the final product.
“Better safe than sorry,” he said.
Democratic Rep. Jimmy Naifeh, who is from Covington in Tipton County, said the mistake could have been avoided if the redistricting process has been more deliberate.
“It’s ironic that the sponsor of the bill is supposed to be representing Tipton County,” Naifeh said. “And he and the speaker of the Senate were in such a hurry to get it passed, they left Tipton County out.”
Democrats complained that the complete redistricting maps were not made publicly available until the week before the session began and that their requests to delay a vote to more carefully study the proposals were rejected.
“This is what getting in such a big hurry for show does,” Naifeh said. “And that’s all that was for, no other reason.”
The Senate redistricting plan passed on 21-12 vote in the upper chamber on Friday. The House voted 60-29 to approve the measure.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The state of Tennessee is offering credit protection to nearly 2,000 employees who canceled their health or dental insurance after officials mailed out their personal information in October.
Each mailing included a certificate containing the information of the recipient and three other letters aimed at other members of the plan. State officials say 1,770 certificates were mailed to the wrong address.
Each included name, address, employee ID number, healthcare insurance coverage dates and Social Security number, which was not identified as such but appeared at the bottom of each certificate.
The state is offering affected employees a year’s credit protection through Lifelock free for one year. Each has been mailed a letter about the program and has until Dec. 28 to sign up.
World War II veteran Darwin Spinks, 86, is wondering why he had to pay $8 to get a voter photo ID that should have been free when he recently went to the driver’s license testing center here, according to the Daily News Journal. He was sent from one line to another to have a picture taken, then was charged.
“I said, ‘You mean I’ve got to pay again?’ She says, ‘Yes,'” explained Spinks, a resident of County Farm Road, who was stationed on the USS Goshen in World War II and was called to duty again for the Korean War.
“I served my country in two wars. Most of that fighting blood was gone after World War II,” he said.
…Applicants for a photo ID also must sign an affidavit, punishable by perjury, stating they do not have a valid government-issued photo ID for voting purposes. They do not have to show their voter registration card.
The Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security checked Spinks’ application Tuesday and found no affidavit attached, said Jennifer Donnals, communications director.
The department will send Spinks a letter and include an affidavit for a voter ID, which he can sign and return in a self-addressed, stamped envelope, she said. The department will then refund his $8, according to Donnals.
“If he came in for a photo ID for voting purposes, he should not have been charged,” Donnals said.
By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
FRANKLIN, Tenn. — Gov. Bill Haslam said Monday that Rep. Curry Todd has acknowledged and apologized for a “bad mistake” in being arrested on drunken driving and gun charges last week.
Haslam told reporters after a speech in Franklin that he had spoken with Todd at a charity golf tournament hosted by Republican House Speaker Beth Harwell and Democratic Rep. Gary Odom earlier in the day.
“I just asked him how he was doing … He said, ‘I realize I made a bad mistake and I’m sorry,'” Haslam said.
Todd, a Collierville Republican, was arrested in Nashville the night of Oct. 11 after failing a roadside sobriety test and refusing to take a breath test. A loaded .38-caliber gun was found in a holster stuffed between the driver’s seat and center console.
“It was a big mistake from Rep. Todd that could have had dangerous consequences, and I think he’s aware of that as well,” Haslam said.
“Drinking and driving is wrong under any circumstances,” he said. “Now obviously having a weapon in the car makes it worse.”
Todd, a retired Memphis police officer who holds a state handgun carry permit, was charged with possession of a gun while under the influence and drunken driving. He posted bail of $3,000 and was released from jail Wednesday morning.
Todd also led an effort to enact a new state law that allows handgun carry permit holders to be armed in bars and restaurants that serve alcohol, if they don’t drink.
Haslam declined to weigh in on whether Todd should remain chairman of the House State and Local Government Committee following his arrest.
“I don’t think that’s my proper role to decide that. That’s why we have that branch of government,” Haslam said. “I’ll let the speaker and others in House leadership make that call.”
Haslam’s approach mirrors statements made by Republican Senate Speaker Ron Ramsey of Blountville, who said last week that Todd should be “punished to the fullest extent of the law,” but that it was up to the House to decide his leadership status.
Harwell was travelling out of state last week and said she wanted to meet with Todd before making a decision about whether he will keep his chairmanship.
When Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey proclaimed his support for Texas Gov. Rick Perry in the Republican presidential contest Wednesday, the news release announcement was sent through the state government’s email system by a state employee.
Adam Kleinheider, Ramsey’s press secretary, said that he made the mistake of sending the news release on the Senate speaker’s support of Perry to a list of state government contacts, including media.
“That was a disregard of policy on my part and unintentional,” he said when contacted by a reporter. “I’m still semi-new at this.”
Kleinheider said he wrote the news release on his own time, while on a break from his duties in Ramsey’s office. It was intended for distribution to a separate “political list” that Ramsey maintains, he said.
State law prohibits the use of state-owned equipment and state email for political purposes and in general bans state employees from engaging in political activities while at work.
Kleinheider subsequently sent the same news release out — without his name or state phone number — through a separate email service that credited the release to Ramsey’s Senate campaign, giving an address in the lieutenant governor’s hometown of Blountville.
(Note: Below is a cut-and-past of the original email, including headline and contact information.)