News release from TBI:
KNOXVILLE – The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has investigated a case of illegal voter registration fraud in Scott County which resulted in the indictment and arrest of an Oneida couple.
Thirty-seven-year-old Christina Botts and her husband, Carrie Botts, 29, were arrested last evening on indictments returned by the Scott County grand jury yesterday. Christina Botts was indicted on 13 counts of illegal voter registration fraud and Carrie Botts indicted on one count of illegal voter registration fraud.
In October of 2012, the 8th Judicial District Attorney General requested TBI to investigate allegations of the couple fraudulently registering voters in Scott County.
Christina Botts registered 43 individuals during September 2012 and Carrie Botts registered one person and forged a signature on the voter registration application. They were altering address information on voter registration forms so it would appear the individuals lived in the city of Huntsville. The Scott County Sheriff’s Office was also involved in the case.
Both were taken into custody at a relative’s residence in Helenwood yesterday. Christina Botts was booked into the Scott County Jail on $25,000 bond. Carrie Botts bond was set at $1,500.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The Supreme Court will struggle this week with the validity of an Arizona law that tries to keep illegal immigrants from voting by demanding all state residents show documents proving their U.S. citizenship before registering to vote in national elections.
The high court will hear arguments Monday over the legality of Arizona’s voter-approved requirement that prospective voters document their U.S. citizenship in order to use a registration form produced under the federal “Motor Voter” voter registration law that doesn’t require such documentation.
This case focuses on voter registration in Arizona, which has tangled frequently with the federal government over immigration issues involving the Mexican border. But it has broader implications because four other states — Alabama, Georgia, Kansas and Tennessee — have similar requirements, and 12 other states are contemplating similar legislation, officials say.
The Obama administration is supporting challengers to the law.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Voters who cast ballots Tuesday or during Tennessee’s 14-day early voting period talk about their selections and the general election.
The top race on the ticket, the contest for president between President Barack Obama, the Democrat, and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, helped send Tennessee voters to the polls even though the race wasn’t close in this state.
— Collierville financial adviser Kevin Baltier cast his ballot Tuesday for Romney, saying Obama’s strategy to levy more taxes on high-income people would stifle job creation. Baltier said Romney’s economic plan would create an environment where people “would not be looked down upon for their success.”
— University of Tennessee English professor Nancy Henry, 47, said in Knoxville that the issues that drove her vote for Obama weren’t economic. “Environmental policy is very important to me. Education is really important to me,” Henry said. “Yes, the economy, but frankly, I live in a pretty prosperous town in a pretty prosperous part of town, so I don’t feel like I have been worse off than I was four years ago.”
News release from secretary of state’s office:
Tomorrow (Saturday, Oct. 6) is the last day for Tennesseans to register to vote by mail if they wish to participate in the Nov. 6 election.
Mail-in applications to register must be postmarked by Monday, October 8 in order to be valid for the November election. However, the United States Post Office will be closed on Monday for the federal Columbus Day holiday. Therefore, applications need to be postmarked by tomorrow.
People may still register in person at the local election commission offices in 93 of Tennessee’s 95 counties through the close of business Monday. (Election offices in Lewis and Hickman counties will not be open Monday. Citizens in Lewis and Hickman counties who want to register to vote on Monday may take their forms to another county election commission office on Monday and those forms will be accepted in time for the November election.)
For questions about registering to vote, contact your local election commission office http://tnsos.org/elections/election_commissions.php, call the state Division of Elections’ toll-free hotline at 1-877-850-4959 or visit www.GoVoteTN.com.
Senate Democrats have asked the chairman of the Senate State and Local Government Committee, Republican Sen. Ken Yager of Harriman, to open the committee for a hearing on voting irregularities. Yager replied that it’s not necessary.
Here’s an exchange of news releases on the matter: News release from Senate Democratic Caucus:
NASHVILLE – Democratic legislative leaders have renewed calls for a hearing on voting irregularities before early voting begins for the November elections.
That election was fraught with issues. While Davidson County has decided not to use the electronic poll books again, other issues remain unresolved by state elections officials.
Voters are still coming forward with issues. Some received the wrong ballot, and others were falsely told they were at the wrong precinct. County and state officials disagree over who is ultimately responsible for elections.
“It could all happen again,” the letter states. “It is critical we hold a hearing on these issues before early voting begins.”
The letter calls for on State and Local Committee Chairman Sen. Ken Yager to hold a hearing on the issue. It was sent Monday by the Democratic members of that committee, Sens. Thelma Harper, Joe Haynes and Lowe Finney.
“Our state has put considerable effort into fighting voter fraud, a problem that barely exists,” the letter states. “Now we have irregularities in our largest cities that could open a door to election fraud, and it is time we act. We must do our part to return integrity to our elections.”
Read the complete letter HERE.
— Statement from Sen. Ken Yager, issued through Senate Republican Caucus:
(NASHVILLE, TN), September 25, 2012 — “There are two state agencies, the Division of Elections and the State Election Commission, which are charged with the responsibility of reviewing this matter and making any recommendation for changes. These are the most appropriate bodies to review any issues related to the August election.”
“The State Election Commission is a bipartisan board whose members are appointed by the General Assembly as recommended by the Republican and Democratic caucuses. ”
“Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins requested an independent audit by the office of the Comptroller of Treasury to fully investigate the matter.”
“Both of these agencies are currently discharging their responsibilities fully and appropriately. I have confidence that they will make any changes needed after reviewing all of the facts; therefore, I see no reason to duplicate their work at taxpayer’s expense.”
About 50 people showed up at Krutch Park in downtown Knoxville to protest the state law requiring a photo ID for voting, reports the News Sentinel. Jen Wallis, council organizer for the Knoxville chapter of MoveOn.org, said new voter ID laws are simply a form of suppression and an attempt to sway elections.
“It’s targeted at young voters, the elderly and it targets minority groups,” said Wallis.
MoveOn was gathering signatures Saturday for an anti-photo ID petition that it hopes to eventually present to both local and state election officials.
Wallis said MoveOn had already collected 400 signatures as of Saturday, and hopes to eventually have the petition signed by 2,000 people. The group also helped register people to vote on Saturday.
Knoxville’s Debra Patterson carried a “Tennessee Voter ID Law is Wrong” sign at the rally.
Patterson, who said she will vote for incumbent Barack Obama in the November presidential election, suggested that the voter photo ID laws are a conservative ploy.
“This is to marginalize people who tend to vote democratic,” said Patterson. “I do believe it looks like an attempt to reduce participation at the polls.”
Tennessee taxpayers will fork over an estimated $4.5 million this week administering elections for the two major parties, observes Andrea Zelenski, but as a matter of state law, the decision as to who can and cannot participate in the partisan festivities is ultimately left to party officials and not the government That reality of the fundamentally rigged nature of Tennessee’s primary system was on display recently in Rhea County, where election judges turned away at least 10 voters this month for trying to vote in a primary election in which they were deemed by local GOP bigwigs as not “bona fide” members of the Party of Lincoln.
…Tennessee GOP chairman Chris Devaney indicated the party’s primary concern in the primary is promoting long-term partisan fidelity.
“We encourage people who have good intentions, Democrats, independents, to come over and vote in our primary if they intend to stay,” said Devaney when asked about the voter challenges in Dayton, a town of 7,000 people.
“But I don’t want people voting in our primary if they just want to manipulate the election,” he said.
Tennessee’s primary election system is technically open, allowing anyone to cast a vote in any primary. But the fine print of the law gives political parties the power to challenge and discount an individual’s vote if they are not “a bona fide member of and affiliated with the political party in whose primary the voter seeks to vote.”
Voters can get around that law only if they have “declared allegiance to the political party in whose primary the voter seeks to vote and (stated) that the voter intends to affiliate with that party.” If party election officials are convinced, voters can cast a ballot. Otherwise, those voters cast a rejected ballot that party leaders decide later whether to count.
The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation confirmed Wednesday that it has launched a probe into whether Rhea County election officials illegally blocked voters believed to be Democrats from voting in the Republican primary election.
Theresa Snyder, the county election administrator, said she and other officials did nothing wrong and were following state law. They took an active stance to block known Democrats from voting in the GOP primary because of an orchestrated campaign for crossover voting in the House District 31 primary, she said.
Snyder said some Democrats are openly supporting Ron Travis, who is challenging state Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City, for the seat. The county Democratic chairman, Doris Roy, said there is no orchestrated campaign and that she has heard from Democrats who intend to vote for Cobb as well as some saying they prefer Travis.
“I am staying out of it,” Roy said. “I just tell everybody to vote their conscience.”
There is no Democrat seeking the office, so the election will effectively be decided in the Aug. 2 primary. Early voting in the primary began July 13 and continues through Saturday.
Ten voters with a history of voting in Democratic primaries have been challenged, Snyder said, including Maxine Vincent, wife of Dayton Mayor Bob Vincent. Nine, including Vincent, were declared ineligible to vote by a three-member Republican panel, she said. In the remaining case, the judges decided the woman in question was eligible.
News release from Family Action Council of Tennessee:
FRANKLIN, Tenn. – The Family Action Council of Tennessee, Inc. announced today the launch of its non-partisan 2012 Voter Education Headquarters.
“With voters heading to the polls tomorrow, we want to do our part to make sure that they know as much as possible about the candidates running for the state legislature,” said David Fowler, President of the Family Action Council of Tennessee. Mr. Fowler said that the website’s information is nonpartisan, including answers from every candidate, Democrat and Republican, who responded to their survey, as well as links to the candidates’ websites.
Mr. Fowler said that he believes “the Voter Education Headquarters page on our website is a great tool for anyone looking for information about those running in the state legislative primaries because of the multiple features it offers.”
With redistricting shifting voters to new legislative districts, Mr. Fowler said that one important feature is that voters will have at their fingertips the tools they need to quickly find out what district they are in.
The website also allows citizens to find the surveys of just those candidates who are running for office in their district, along with an easy to read side-by-side comparison of the candidates’ answers. “We want to eliminate the frustration I’ve experienced myself of having to read through a long list of candidates in an effort to find the ones in your district, and then having to read small, jammed together lines of answers requiring you to remember what each numbered question was about.”
Another feature Mr. Fowler noted was direct links to every state legislative candidate running in the primary that has a website or Facebook page. “We think this feature is important to help voters easily find out additional information about a particular candidate without having to spend time surfing the web. With our great team of volunteers, we’ve been able to do that surfing for them,” Mr. Fowler said.
The 2012 Tennessee Voter Education Headquarters website is available at www.FACTn.org
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.