Tennessee Democratic Party Chair Chip Forrester released a statement on Friday saying that Secretary of State Tre Hargett should be fired for "refusing to do his job" and for "using his office to obstruct the voting rights of all Tennesseans."

Sean Braisted says Forrester is over the top, making "outlandish claims with very little to back them up," and that the "notion that the GOP (via the SOS) is involved in a massive conspiracy between 95 county election commissions to commit felonious election fraud is not backed up as of yet by any real evidence."

While I don't think anyone (except maybe Forrester in his strongly worded statement) is accusing the GOP of conspiring to commit "felonious election fraud," there is clear and very real evidence of an organized effort to undermine election reforms in Tennessee. Go read that and tell me how you interpret it as anything short of an effort to discourage voter registration, suppress voter turnout, inject big money into elections, make it impossible to verify election results, and install hand picked election officials to oversee their schemes.


The only thing that isn't clear is the motive. It may be as simple as "because they can." More likely, it's to gain every possible legal advantage going in to the 2010 elections.

As for the Secretary of State's recent statement defending his refusal to comply with the Voter Confidence Act, Mary Mancini has the point by point rebuttal with actual, you know, facts and stuff.

Mainstream media is taking a pass on the controversy. They are too busy mourning the death of journalism to go do some journalism as part of their "fourth estate" duties, one of which is to watch over this most fundamental element of representative democracy. Other than a couple of bloggers and a "colorful" activist (who got a visit from the TBI courtesy of the Secretary of State's office for his trouble), nobody seems to care.

Except Chip Forrester, who resorts to making "outlandish claims" in an effort to get someone, anyone, to pay attention. Good for Chip Forrester.

P.S. This Republican talking point about optical scan ballots being the same technology used in the recent Iranian elections is absurd and an insult to our intelligence. They're comparing the State of Tennessee to Iran? Give me a break. Who cares how you count the votes if you don't plan to count them in the first place? If, on the other hand, you plan to count the votes (which is what we do in America, right?), isn't it better to use a system that allows you to verify the votes are actually being counted and count them manually if you have to?

jcgrim's picture

thanks for keeping us informed

about this. Good for Forrester, it's refreshing to have someone respond to those ignorant talking points.

BTW. Great Britain uses optical scanning in their elections. Are the TN R's challenging the veracity of their elections also?


Andy Axel's picture

If, on the other hand, you

If, on the other hand, you plan to count the votes (which is what we do in America, right?), isn't it better to use a system that allows you to verify the votes are actually being counted and count them manually if you have to?

Ask Al Franken about that.


Dirty deeds done dirt cheap! Special holidays, Sundays and rates!

R. Neal's picture

Previously at

Previously at KnoxViews

according to Pew Research, other states using optical scan ballots exclusively include Alabama, Iowa, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Mexico, North Dakota, and Rhode Island. Connecticut, Maine, New Hampshire, and Oklahoma have optical scan ballots and vote by phone.

Tennessee Republicans would have you believe that all of these states are in violation of federal election certification standards.

Optical scan systems are available from a variety of manufacturers. Hart Intercivic, whose ESlate systems are used in Knox and thirty other counties, has a precinct optical scan system that meets Tennessee's Voter Confidence Act requirements. Presumably it is compatible with the back-end election management and tabulation systems already in place.

Bernie Ellis 's picture

Hargett will do and say anything to keep our elections unsafe

I appreciate your mention of Tre Hargett's clumsy and sinister attempt to silence me by filing a false "terrorist threat against a government official" complaint against me with the TBI, a charge that the TBI announced was "unwarranted". If your readers are unaware of that failed effort to turn the TBI into the KGB, here are three other good links:


As you know, Tre has trotted out yet another excuse for disrespecting the law, this one (about equipment certification standards) that he has invented out of whole cloth. As the organizer for Gathering To Save Our Democracy, a grassroots group with members encompassing six political parties (and lots of independents), I wrote a very long rebuttal to Tre's litany of bogus reasons for keeping our elections unsafe. (Excerpts follow below my name.) I would be happy to send anyone the entire rebuttal. Just email me at tracevu@bellsouth.net .

Gathering To Save OUR Democracy started and hopes to continue as nonpartisan supporters of free, fair and verifiable elections here in Tennessee. If, after reviewing the response to Tre's latest nonsense that I would be happy to send anyone, you come to believe that Tre Hargett will do and say anything to prevent our elections from being trustworthy and verifiable, then every Tennessee voter must act now. Call your neighbors, call your legislators, call our Governor and demand honesty, competence and patriotism in the Secretary of State's office; important standards that are sorely missing in that office at this moment.

Bernie Ellis
Gathering To Save OUR Democracy
(Excerpts from my response to Tre's latest excuse for disrespecting the law)

What kind of person would stoop to lies, half-truths, false information and pig-headed refusal to face the facts in order to keep our elections unsafe at any cost?…

Perhaps it is the kind of person who would dispatch his State Election Coordinator, Mark Goins, to Memphis two weeks ago to instruct Tennessee’s county election officials to openly and aggressively defy the Voter Confidence Act and to do anything they could to drag their feet another six months in hopes that, when the General Assembly reconvenes, they will provide cover for this un-American stance to keep our elections unsafe that the assembly has demonstrated not once but twice they are unwilling to do. (For the sake of democracy, we cannot afford the third go-round with the General Assembly to be the fatal charm for Tre Hargett’s anti-democratic intentions.)

What kind of person would do anything, say anything, charge anything to keep our elections unsafe? That kind of person would be Tre Hargett. On behalf of all Tennessee voters, regardless of political party and political persuasion who only want our votes to be counted as they are cast, it is time to implement the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act. Any further effort at delay betrays the true intentions of the opponents of free, fair and verifiable elections – and those intentions cannot be allowed to stand here any more than they should be allowed to stand in Iran or any place else that freedom-loving people are called on to protect their right to vote and to have their votes counted.

At this critical moment, Tennessee is just such a place. In truth, it always has been (just ask the ghosts of the Battle of Athens) and it always will be.

gonzone's picture


Great work Mr. Ellis! Thank you so much for defending democracy, which is not possible without accurate, reliable, and verifiable systems for counting votes. Katherine Harris is getting a run for her money as worst SOS ever looks like.

"If ignorance is bliss, why aren't more people happy?"

tennesseevaluesauthority's picture

This is probably going to be

This is probably going to be one of my favorite posts of the year here. You have done a good job reminding me that it is too easy to get distracted by the shiny controversies they want us to play with (look! guns!) while they do their real work elsewhere.

I intend to write more about this and start asking some questions.

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