Crossville Chronicle, Crossville, TN

Area News

June 2, 2010

Election commission certifies May primary votes

CROSSVILLE — The Cumberland County Election Commission certified vote counts and approved the results of the May 4 county primary election during its last meeting.

Prior to taking the action, Election Commission Chairman Calvin Smart read a prepared statement stating his opinion about the quality of Administrator of Elections Sharon York calling her more qualified and professional than her predecessor, Suzanne Smith.

He also mentioned "a frivolous lawsuit" was added, stating "surely again we will have to appoint another attorney to defend this election commission against another frivolous lawsuit ... because we are following the election laws of Tennessee," Smart said.

He referred to the new presidential administration of the country and the "attitude of change" and questioned why the minority party of Tennessee (Democratic party) couldn't accept change.

"You can not have it both ways ... it is foolish ... I ask that these frivolous lawsuits cease desist ..'" Smart said.

He said the taxpayers will eventually have to pay the cost and the cost could be in the "tens of thousands."

Nobody responded to Smart's statement until later in the meeting.

Administrator of Elections Sharon York then reported the primary election went smoothly with the exception of a couple minor problems.

After being asked by a member of the public, Dennis Hatler, about some absentee ballots, York told commissioners there were 139 ballots that were trimmed in order to get them to fit in the state envelopes. In doing so, the numbers were inadvertently trimmed off and those ballots could not be scanned by the new machine.

The counting board then wrote down the results and copied them over to new ballots so they could be read by the scanner. York said it was just as if the ballots were processed like a hand count.

York said they will order the correct envelopes for the August County General Election in order to prevent the incident from happening again.

In other areas, Election Commissioner Lisa Phillips said she had received some complaints about voting machines being turned in a different direction at the Pleasant Hill precinct and during early voting at the election commission office.

Phillips said some voters complained because they felt the election workers could see them voting. The machines were facing outward rather than facing the wall as they have in previous elections during early voting.

York said there had been no complaints at the election commission office. She said she was under the impression the precincts would be set up the way they had in the past and there were no instructions given to set them up differently. York and Smart said those issues would definitely be addressed before the August election.

Hatler then asked if there were any people who were not allowed to vote.

York said there was one man who usually voted with a military form who didn't this time and was denied, but he was overnighted a ballot and was allowed then to vote.

Smart then asked Hatler, "May I ask why you ask that question?"

Hatler then became agitated and responded, "Because I am a voter in Cumberland County and I like to know what's going on. And this is supposed to be a public meeting and I'm a member of the public and will ask what I (please). You just made a highly political statement to start this meeting, which is highly improper for a chairman of an election commission. To make such a political statement is highly improper and I think you should resign just because of that statement alone ... disregarding all the various lawsuits you've attracted since you've showed up here.

"And you told us the taxpayers are going to have to pay more legal expenses for another lawsuit that you have done? You know, that's why I'm asking these questions."

Smart said thank you to Hatler for his concern and continued the meeting.

The election commissioners then signed the certification sheets for the votes.

There will be an election commission meeting in June, but no date was scheduled as of yet. Smart said the meeting will be announced and scheduled in association with the election calendar for August in order to only have one meeting and not two and it would be between June 13 - 20.

Election Commissioner Bob Austin did not attend the meeting.

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