County Attorney Says All Votes Were Counted In Recent Election Snafu, And None Affected Outcomes Of Races

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

County Attorney Rheubin Taylor, who is also the lawyer for the Election Commission, said all ballots were counted despite a recent election snafu.

He said the affected voters did not affect the outcome of any election.

Election officials said they learned just prior to the Aug. 2 election that there was a problem with  some district lines being improperly drawn several years earlier.

County Attorney Taylor wrote a response to NAACP officials who expressed concern about the situation. He said, "We appreciate the mission(s) of the NAACP (both nationally and locally) and the Lawyers' Committee For Civil Rights Under Law; and assure you that the Hamilton County Election Commission's goal is likewise to promote fair and honest elections for all of the citizens of Hamilton County.

"We too, have a system in place where our office can be called (both on election days and at other times) and informed of any irregularities regarding voter registration, voter education, and voter participation.

"We likewise experienced and expressed sincere and grave concerns over the fact that it was discovered that approximately 325 registered voters in Hamilton County had been voting in the wrong voting districts due to errors that were made when the district lines within Hamilton County were redrawn as a result of the 2010 biennial census.

"Upon our being notified of that problem, we immediately consulted all entities and personnel that had any knowledge and/or involvement in the drawing of said district lines to inquire as to how such a tragedy could have occurred, and to see what immediate steps could be taken to address the issue. Unfortunately, this dilemma came to our attention two days before the Hamilton County General Election of August 2nd and the State of Tennessee Primary Election.

"We take issue, however, with your assertion that the Hamilton County Election Commission failed to provide ample information to, and through, our local news media. Again, with less than 48 hours to identify and implement some reasonable corrective action, we informed the local Press of the situation; held an emergency meeting of the Commission (to which the Press was invited and attended); and answered any and all questions (for publication) as presented to us. Despite what may have been reported in our local news media, none of the 43 early­ voting ballots were discarded.

"They were all counted as they had been cast (even though those voters admittedly may not have had the choices they should have been given). At the upcoming November election, each of those voters will be steered to the right voting precinct in order to cast their ballot in the State General election.

"Our analysis of the votes cast in those contested races where those 43 voters should have voted does not yield any significant impact on the results had those 43 voters been able to vote as they should have. In fact, of the two (2) contested races where those votes should have been cast, the margin of victory in one (1) race was 1,129, and the margin in the other was 2,810.

"As to the remaining identified 282 registered voters who had been voting in the wrong precincts, the Hamilton County Election Commission (again in consultation and coordination with the State Coordinator of Elections) implemented a system whereby had any of those 282 ) voters appeared on Election Day (August 2nd at the wrong precinct where they were accustomed of voting, they were to be handed a paper ballot that we had prepared (with the correct choices to be made), and their ballots would have been tabulated along with the provisional ballots for the entire election. We will note, however, that only 48 of those 282 voters presented themselves at the polls on Election Day to vote.

"Therefore, all 91, i.e. the 43 who early voted and the 48 who voted on Election Day, of the totally impacted voters had their ballots counted. We hope this letter properly addresses your concerns, and gives you some assurance of our efforts to correct the problems that have been identified. In the event you have other questions, or wish to have further discussions, please feel free to contact the undersigned."

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