Nashville, TN (August 29, 2016) — A new state law passed by Tennessee Republicans during the last legislative session forced the removal of the chair of the Sevier County Election Commission, Democrat Michael Fitzgibbons. The new state law requires that the chair of each county election commission be a member of the majority Party.
House Bill 726, sponsored by Representatives Mark Pody, Micah Van Huss and Dale Carr, states: “The chair of the county election commission shall be a member of the majority party, and the secretary shall be a member of a minority party.” The state law not only forced the removal of Michael Fitzgibbons as chair, but the state election commission voted to remove him as a member of the Sevier County Election Commission as well.
“This is just another example of the unrestrained power that Republicans have cultivated in the State Legislature. They make secret deals, sweep bad behavior under the rug, and override the will of local voters,” said Democratic State Party Chair Mary Mancini.
Last year Republican Rep. Andy Holt had a local Weakley County election administrator fired and then replaced her with his inexperienced friend. This year Republican Senators Jack Johnson and Todd Gardenhire led a charge, along with Republican Representatives Martin Daniel, Jay Reedy and Tim Wirgau, to overrule the will of an overwhelming majority of Nashville voters on an amendment that would allow more local workers to be hired for construction projects.
Mancini commented further, “The 3 Republicans and 2 Democrats on the Sevier County Election Commission elected the most qualified person for the job as chair, Michael Fitzgibbons. State Republicans then specifically passed a law that nullified Chairman Fitzgibbon’s election as chair simply because he is Democrat. The people of Tennessee are sick and tired of these political games and the gridlock that the unrestrained power of Tennessee Republicans have created, and they will show their displeasure at the ballot box in November.