NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — It seems you can never escape election drama here in Tennessee. Tuesday evening, the AP reported District 7 had over 200 ballots cast incorrectly. Instead of being given ballots for District 7, they were given ballots for District 6.
“190 impacted Congressional races, 16 impacted State Senate races and six impacted State House races,” Davidson County Administrator of Elections Jeff Roberts said.
A little quick math tells us that’s 212 votes impacted by a clerical error in Davidson County. It’s not a huge number but it begs the question – how did this happen?
“We, here in Davidson County, provide information to the Secretary of State’s office, and there was a discrepancy between the two,” Roberts said. “That’s what started the ball rolling and caused the need to do a lot of research.”
The issue came to light after an AP reporter found a discrepancy between her real ballot and the one she was expecting.
“When she started to investigate who was going to be on her ballot, that started sending up red flags because she got two different answers,” Roberts said.
The impact is likely very low, as incumbent Rep. Mark Green (R-District 7) is widely expected to win his re-election bid over Democrat challenger Odessa Kelly.
“We’ve voted, so far, a little bit above 45,000 people,” Roberts said. The numbers I gave you add up to like 212 people, so we don’t think it’ll impact any of the specific races that are out there because the numbers were not that large.”
Though the impact to numbers may be low, there are other things this can affect. “The biggest impact is overall confidence. There are already people who get uneasy when you talk about gerrymandering, when you’re redrawing, when you’re talking about the motivations and who wins and who loses,” said Prof. Bill Lyons, Director of Policy Partnerships, UT Baker Center.
Still though, Democrats are angry about it. Wednesday afternoon, several Democrats, including Kelly and gubernatorial candidate Dr. Jason Martin, held a press conference about the issue, claiming it was an overt attempt at voter suppression. The move comes after Democrats were already angry after redistricting sliced up many of their stronger districts.
“Whenever you start splitting precincts and rearranging and rewriting where district lines go, the first election can be a little confusing,” said Prof. Lyons.
Green, himself, said the redistricting was ‘inherently unfair.’
News 2 reached out to the office of the Tennessee Secretary of State, Tre Hargett, for comment. His office sent the following response:
Our office was first made aware of a potential problem in Davidson County Tuesday afternoon. Immediately our office started investigating the issue. We determined that there was a problem in Davidson County and contacted Election Administrator Jeff Roberts.
Through multiple phone calls and research, we determined the problem was larger than one voter. Our office shared with the Davidson County Election Commission the results of our research. The Coordinator of Elections and Jeff Roberts agreed the problem must be fixed immediately before polls opened on Wednesday morning. The Davidson County Election Commission worked nonstop until about 4:30 a.m. to correct the issue.
Our office does not play a role in the assignment of voters to their respective districts. That responsibility rests with the county election commissions. Once voters are assigned according to redistricting, that information is added to the voter registration records.
If a voter is concerned and wants to know what district they are located in, they can visit the GoVoteTN app or the Tennessee General Assembly or Comptroller’s website. Voters can also call our office at 1-877-850-4959.