TNDP Chair Asks Republicans To Work With Democrats To Ensure Fair Elections

Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester is requesting state Election Coordinator Mark Goins to provide a statewide list of purged voters immediately so efforts can be made to ensure legitimate voters have not been disenfranchised like those potentially in Benton County.

Forrester pointed to a recent WSMV-TV Channel 4 investigative story detailing the actions of the Benton County Election Commission, which invalidated 2,100 voter registrations for various reasons, including a simple failure to check a box.

“Many of those people have been voting for decades in Benton County,” Forrester said. “To all of a sudden claim their registrations are invalid because they failed to check a box is ridiculous. How many more law-abiding, registered voters across Tennessee will be denied the right to vote on Election Day?

“This just further demonstrates the mess created when Republicans fired a bunch of competent, longtime county election administrators after the 2008 elections. Some of those newly hired administrators evidently are either using poor judgment or playing partisan games. Neither one is acceptable.”

If affected voters do not correct their registrations by July 31, they will be ineligible to vote in the August 5 primary, local officials have said.

Republicans took control of local election commissions in all 95 counties after the November 2008 elections, firing many county election administrators soon thereafter. That prompted a federal lawsuit to be filed on behalf of several former county election administrators contending Republicans violated their constitutional rights by conspiring to treat their jobs as political patronage.

“We see now what can happen when political patronage is used to hire election administrators,” Forrester said. “They let Republican Rep. Matthew Hill get away with not properly filling out his nominating petition in Washington County, but they want to purge Benton County residents who have been voting for decades because they didn’t check a box. This kind of behavior is damaging our political process.

“I’m asking Mr. Goins, Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Tennessee Republican Chairman Chris Devaney to put aside partisan politics and work with me and other Democrats and Republicans across the state to fix this problem right away,” he added.

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