Secretary of State rewards state senator for standing in the way of paper ballots

NASHVILLE — Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester calls an award Secretary of State Tre Hargett presented to State Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro “bogus” because it rewards work trying to obstruct voting rights.

Ketron, the Republican senator who represents Maury, Marshall, Lincoln and part of Rutherford counties, introduced legislation in the Senate delaying the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act, which requires all county election commissions to switch to paper ballots before the 2010 election.

“Sen. Ketron should be just as embarrassed as the secretary of state for trying to deny fair and verifiable elections,” Forrester said of Ketron’s bill, which failed. “And for Hargett to present Ketron with such a bogus award for that kind of work is ridiculous.”

According to media reports, Ketron has been awarded the 2008-09 National Association of Secretaries of State Medallion Award “in appreciation of Ketron’s work to ensure the integrity of Tennessee elections…”

Hargett has refused to implement the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act, citing an opinion issued by the General Assembly’s Office of Legal Services.

The opinion refers to voting system standards and whether Tennessee law directly references voluntary 2002 or 2005 guidelines adopted by the Election Assistance Commission, whose commissioners are appointed by the president and confirmed by the U.S. Senate.

“That is a weak opinion open to wide interpretation,” Forrester explained. “Many believe the Secretary of State has the authority to move forward and implement the law as it stands now. This just proves that Hargett and Republicans like Sen. Ketron are coordinating efforts to stymie fair and verifiable elections.

“Firing longtime election administrators across the state and trying to conduct local election commission meetings behind closed doors in violation of the state’s Sunshine laws are a pattern of disturbing behavior that has developed since Hargett was sworn into office.

“The General Assembly should fire Hargett, and voters should fire Ketron,” Forrester added.

 

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