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Early Voting Encouraged By State Election Officials

As the state enters the final days of the primary-election early-voting period, state election officials are urging Tennessee voters to get down to the polls early to avoid long wait times on Aug. 7.

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and State Election Coordinator Mark Goins spoke on a conference call Wednesday to reporters from around the state about the extra long ballots for this election period.

“As we’ve emphasized before, this is the longest, or at least one of the longest ballots in Tennessee history,” Hargett told reporters, and added that the estimated time to complete a full ballot is about five to eight minutes.

The “added dynamic” contributing to the exceptional length of this year’s ballots are the inclusion of the retention questions for the 23 state appellate and Supreme Court judges, Hargett said.

According to Hargett, 368,111 people have so far participated in early voting, which is a 10 percent increase over the turnout for the August 2010 election.

Hargett is urging people to vote early to limit the lines on election day to make the day go smoother for state and local elections officials. Shorter lines of voters on election day means the polls close earlier, which means election commissions will be able to get the results out quicker, he said.

“We just want to encourage if people know how they’re going to vote, we want them to go ahead and take advantage of early voting,” Hargett said. “Certainly if they’re not ready to cast their vote, they’re certainly entitled to do it on election day, and we encourage them to do so.”

However, despite the longer ballots, Goins said that he had not heard of any problems with lengthy early voting times around the state so far, and that things appear “to be moving pretty smoothly.”

“People are not experiencing long lines during early voting. And obviously the numbers bear out that more people are taking advantage of it four years ago,” Goins said.

In the August elections of 2010, voter turnout was at 29 percent, Hargett said, and added that voter turnout in August of 2012 was “slightly under 20 percent.” In the November 2012 general election turnout  was “just under 62 percent,” the secretary of state said.

 

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Press Releases

Carr: Lamar Should Drop Negative Tactics, Agree to Debate

Press release from the Campaign for Joe Carr for U.S. Senate; July 30, 2014:

NASHVILLE, TN– TN State Rep. and U.S. Senate candidate Joe Carr released the following statement tonight in reaction to Sen. Lamar Alexander going negative and attacking Carr:

“Things must be really bad for Lamar to go negative and embrace these kind of dishonest and deceitful tactics. But if it’s a debate about Common Core he wants, I dare Lamar Alexander to stop hiding behind his negative attacks and debate me before next week’s election.”

As reported today by the Knoxville News Sentinel “with the primary just days away, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander’s re-election campaign is doing something it has avoided doing for months: It is finally acknowledging the existence of Republican challenger Joe Carr. Alexander’s campaign is attacking Carr by name for the first time in a flier sent to voters in several Middle Tennessee counties where Carr is presumed to have his strongest support…”

Carr added, “Talk about blatant hypocrisy – I’ve spent the last two years fighting against Common Core but when Lamar Alexander is asked about his position he says ‘let’s not talk about Common Core.’ If this is something Lamar Alexander really feels strongly about, why does he refuse to take a position? What does it say about Lamar Alexander that he’s willing to take cheap-shots at me in a flier, but won’t stand-up and debate me in person?”

The negative attack against Carr comes as Alexander continues to come under attack for comments made earlier this week while campaigning in Tennessee which has revealed a massive divide between Senator Lamar Alexander and the Tennessee Congressional Delegation. When asked about his support of the Senate’s immigration bill (S. 744) last year, Alexander replied, “I voted to end amnesty.” However, Tennessee Reps. Marsha Blackburn, Diane Black, Phil Roe, Jimmy Duncan Jr., Scott DesJarlais and Chuck Fleischmann have been vocally forceful in their characterization of S. 744 as “amnesty.”

“This is very straight-forward, either Lamar Alexander is lying or he’s suggesting Reps. Blackburn, Black, Duncan, Roe, DesJarlais and Fleischmann are when they call S. 744 ‘amnesty’,” said TN State Rep. and U.S. Senate candidate Joe Carr. “You have to wonder if Reps. Blackburn, Black, Duncan, Roe, DesJarlais and Fleischmann agree with Lamar when he says the Senate immigration bill was actually a ‘vote to end amnesty.’”

“The Senate amnesty bill is dead on arrival in the House of Representatives,” Rep. Blackburn declared at the time. “I do not believe in amnesty and if we are going to make any changes to our system we must start by securing our borders. Any other reform effort is meaningless if we don’t start with strengthening our border security.”

Rep. Black decisively said, “There is no place for amnesty in immigration reform, period…In Congress, I was proud to be a vocal opponent of S. 744, the flawed Senate immigration bill that would have granted almost immediate legal status to millions of illegal immigrants.”

“I’m not going to vote for a bill that looks to me like it’s very similar to the [1986 amnesty] bill,” Rep. Duncan said about the S. 744. “I don’t know that Ronald Reagan would do the same thing if he was facing a problem that had become four or five times worse than it was in 1986.”

“The United States has always had a generous legal immigration policy, but we simply cannot grant amnesty to those who choose to break the law,” Rep. DesJarlais said in a statement about S. 744. “The Senate immigration proposal is the ObamaCare of immigration: A broad, comprehensive bill fraught with unintended consequences and unexpected results. I will fight to make sure this bill never reaches the floor of the United States House of Representatives. Providing a pathway to citizenship before securing the border is putting the cart before the horse. Before overhauling our nation’s immigration system, we should first ensure we are enforcing the laws that are already on the books.”

Rep. Flesichmann added, “An estimated 15 to 20 million illegal immigrants currently reside in the United States. I do not support rewarding these illegal immigrants with amnesty. In 1986, when legislation was passed granting general amnesty, the illegal immigrant population quadrupled.”

“I am opposed to the Senate bill because it includes a pathway to citizenship without sufficient protections to ensure our laws won’t be broken in the future,” Rep. Roe said last year. “Congress must take a transparent, incremental approach to dealing with this important issue instead of rushing through a seriously flawed piece of legislation.”