Community Control Group Says Valid Signatures Were Rejected By Election Office

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

A group seeking to set up a Community Oversight Board of the Chattanooga Police Department said Tuesday that a number of the signatures on its petition rejected by the election office were found to be valid.

The Election Commission earlier ruled that the group did not come up with the necessary signatures of valid registered city voters to get the issue on the ballot.

The group issued this statement: (No one's name was given with the press release).

"On December 22nd 2020, the Community Control Now Coalition announced that we would be
conducting The People’s Review Process to access the rejected signatures from the petition to
put a Community Oversight Board of the Chattanooga Police Department on the ballot for the
March 2021 elections.

"After a thorough analysis of the 1,596 petition signatures that were
rejected by the Hamilton County Election Commission, we see that the Commission will go to
any length to ensure that police misconduct continues to go unchecked by suppressing the
people’s will to put Community Control of the Chattanooga Police to a vote on the upcoming
March ballot.

"Even in the midst of a pandemic, the Coalition was still able to collect over 6000
physical signatures, demonstrating massive citywide support of the ballot initiative.
At a time when the entire country is reckoning with the facts of systemic racism and white
supremacy, the Commission hastily rejected these signatures.

"At a time when the legitimacy of
electoral processes are under attack and in question, the Commision defaulted to its custom of
voter suppression. In light of police clearly collaborating with white nationalists and fascists
during the attack on the United States Capitol building on January 6, 2021, the need to hold
police accountable for their complicity with white supremacy has become even more undeniable
than before. The Hamilton County Election Commission, a body of majority Republican election
commission officers, must be held accountable for their disingenuous efforts to undermine the
will of the people of Chattanooga.

"Of the 1,596 signatures that the Commission rejected, the Coalition found more than 300 to be
wrongfully rejected, their rejection of a questionable nature, and not in compliance with
Tennessee code of elections section 2-1-107. The Community Control Now ballot initiative only
needs 226 additional signatures to be certified to meet the required amount of petition
signatures.

? According to the Commission, 425 signatories were not registered. Our review found that
43 of the signatures rejected as NR were found to have been properly registered at the
address they provided on the petition.
? According to the Commission, 97 signatures were rejected for having an invalid
signature. Our review found that 79 of the signatories rejected as NO-S were found to
have provided a reasonably legible signature, whether printed or in cursive.
? According to the Commission, 93 of the signatories were rejected for listing an invalid
address.

"Our review process found that 13 of the signatories rejected as NO-A provided 
an accurate address that was within city limits. 10 of the signatories rejected as NO-A
provided a different address that was located in the same precinct as the address listed
in the voter registration document provided by the Commission.

? According to the Commission, 933 signatories provided an address that was outside the
city of Chattanooga, or outside the precinct listed on their voter registration. Our review
process found that 33 of the signatories rejected as NO-P were found to be properly
registered at the city of Chattanooga address they provided on the petition. 128 of the
signatures rejected with the code NO-P were found to be properly registered to vote in
the city, and the Commission rejected their signature based on an antiquated state law
disqualifying any signatorie that has moved to a different voting precinct within the city.

"As of today, Jan. 12, 2020, due to these egregious reviewing mistakes, we have submitted
a formal general election complaint with the Hamilton County Election Commission for 170+
wrongful petition signature rejections. Our nonpartisan coalition will continue fighting this blatant
voter suppression, on behalf of all Chattanoogans, by filing Title III Help America Vote Act
(HAVA) complaints to the Tennessee Division of Elections Coordinator, Mark Goins, with an
additional 128 signatures.

"Out of respect and in the spirit of transparency for the greater community of Chattanooga, the Hamilton County Election Commission owes an explanation as to why these signatures were wrongfully rejected. The commission’s practice of voter suppression and institutional indifference call into question the legitimacy and fairness of the Hamilton County Election Commission."


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