DA Looking Into Issue Of County Commission Candidate's Campaign Sending Filled-Out Requests For Absentee Ballot To Elderly Voters

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

The District Attorney's Office has been provided with documents that a County Commission candidate's campaign sent filled-out requests for absentee ballots to elderly voters.

Kerry Steelman, election administrator, said there have been four instances in which such requests came from the Elect John Brooks campaign. He said state law says in Section 2-6-202:  (3) A person who is not an employee of an election commission commits a Class E felony if such person gives an application for an absentee ballot to any person. (4) A person who is not an employee of an election commission commits a Class A misdemeanor if such person gives an unsolicited request for application for absentee ballot to any person.

Mr. Brooks, who is seeking to get back the County Commission District 6 seat from Joe Graham, said he received a call from Mr. Steelman about the issue about two weeks ago. He said at the time he told campaign workers to discontinue the practice.

The attorney and former chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party said other candidates have followed the same tactic. "Fred Thompson started it," he said.

He said he believes the law on the subject is "probably unconstitutional." He said, "It used to be a common practice."

One elderly person said she and her husband received a letter in the mail from John Allen Brooks containing what they thought was an election ballot. Her son-in-law came over and examined it. He said it was an application for an absentee by mail ballot.

It was already filled out with the name of the elderly person and it requested a Democratic ballot.

There was included a stamped, self-addressed envelope to the Election Commission.

All the person had to do was sign the application, put it in the envelope and mail it.

Mr. Steelman said his office received two such letters. He said the return address was Elect John Brooks. He said a third was brought in by a candidate and a fourth by a relative of an elderly person who had gotten the letter.

Election Commissioner Chris Clem said, "It certainly sounds inappropriate for a candidate to try to get people to vote by absentee ballot."

He said, "You can have a lot of abuses if you allow candidates to solicit ballots and help people fill them out."

Mr. Steelman said if a person applies for an absentee ballot by mail, then later decides to vote in person, then they could only vote by mail.


3rd Edition Of Popular Stokes Photo Book To Be Issued

With a second edition of the popular Stokes Photo Book selling out, Chattanoogan.com will publish a third edition of 1,000 copies. John Wilson, publisher, said, "We continue to get calls and emails inquiring about the availability of this remarkable Chattanooga photo collection. So we have asked College Printing at Collegedale to put the almost 600-page book back on the presses. ... (click for more)

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: ABERNATHY, COURTNEY NATASHA 309 SUNRISE LN 2B CHATTANOOGA, 37411 40 Chattanooga AGGRAVATED ASSAULT BARHITE, MICHAEL W 1406 JOHN ROSS RD EAST RIDGE, 37412 33 Chattanooga Booked for Previous Charges or Other Reason(s) BEENE, ATLEE EARL 7441 CHAD ROAD HARRISON, 37341 42 Hamilton ... (click for more)

Obama Doesn't Want You To Save For College

Over the past few decades, federal aid for post-secondary education has decreased and transitioned largely from grants to guaranteed student loans.   At the same time, the cost of college has far exceeded the cost of inflation creating a situation in which college has become less affordable and causing students to pile up debt that is at an all-time high.   This debt ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Great Peace Pipe

There is a serious rift between our state legislators and Erlanger Hospital that has me worried. If I worry about something, it doubles the power of the worry. My problem? I am convinced we have the best collection of people at the State Legislature in Nashville we’ve ever had – I adore each of them. I am also blessed to believe Erlanger is back on track and, after a sensational ... (click for more)

Notre Dame Earns State Duals Berth With 45-33 Win

The Notre Dame wrestling team is peaking at the right time. It's been an up and down season for the Fighting Irish and for the first time all year, they have a full lineup. And now they can start making plans for next weekend's State Duals in Franklin after beating East Ridge for the second time in three days. The Irish beat East Ridge by eight points on Thursday night ... (click for more)

McCurdy's Clutch 3 Leads Bears Past Blue Raiders, 65-62

CLEVELAND, Tenn. – First place in District 5-AAA was up for grabs Saturday when bitter rivals  Cleveland and Bradley Central – both boys and girls – squared off at Jim Smiddy Arena. The Bearettes seized it. The Bears scrambled atop the standings as well. Bradley Central, scoring eight points in the final 35.9 seconds, including Bradley McCurdy clutch 3-pointer, ... (click for more)