Press Release from Sen. Bill Ketron, R-Murfreesboro; Sept. 26, 2011:
(Murfreesboro, TN), September 26, 2011 – State Senator Bill Ketron (R-Murfreesboro) held a press conference today regarding the need for voter photo identification, citing the ineligible voting of a high ranking official in the Rutherford County Democrat Party. Former Rutherford County Democratic Chairman Jonathon Fagan joined Ketron in advocating the need for the new law.
“There has been much in the media lately regarding the frequency of ineligible voting, with many Democrats and media sources reporting that there is little or no fraud in Tennessee,” said Senator Ketron. “This is not factual. Today we are bringing forth a prime example of ineligible voting by a ranking local Democrat officer.”
Ketron said after he wrote an editorial in the Daily News Journal regarding the need for the new photo identification law in August, Vice-Chairman of the Rutherford County Democrat Party, Tony Pegel, published an opposing viewpoint guest editorial scoffing the new law. Ketron was later contacted with information regarding Vice-Chairman’s Pegel’s history of voting from 1994 to 2010, despite the fact he was not qualified as an eligible voter under Tennessee law.
“Mr. Pegel stated I had been ‘misleading’ citizens in my editorial regarding the number of felons who had voted ineligibly in Tennessee,” added Ketron. “In fact he knew better since at that time he had already petitioned to have his rights restored after voting ineligibly for 16 years. He is not the only one. We had over 10,000 ineligible felons on our voter rolls before the Election Coordinator encouraged county election officials to purge the rolls in accordance with Tennessee law.”
Under state law, a person convicted of a felony must check the box as provided on the form, which Mr. Pegel did in accordance with the law. Then they must state what they were convicted of separately so the election official can see if they are qualified under Tennessee law to vote. Ketron said it was his understanding from looking at the records that Mr. Pegel did not list the nature of the felony, nor did election officials at the time do what they were suppose to do in ensuring that he was an eligible voter.
Mr. Pegel then proceeded to vote in elections from 1994 until the election rolls were purged for ineligible voters in 2010. He petitioned to have his rights restored, which was approved in April.
“This is not about restoration of voting rights for felons. There is a process for that. This is about following the laws we have on the books. That was not what happened for the 16 years here as he was ineligible under Tennessee law.”
“For him to scoff at our efforts to make sure voters are indeed eligible to vote, and call them misleading, while knowing that he had recently been purged because he had been voting ineligibly, is indicative of the problem we face and proves the point that we needed reform in making sure our elections are fair and legal.”