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TCA: Electronic Polls Defaulted to GOP During August 2 Primaries

Press release from Tennessee Citizen Action; August 28, 2012: 

It has come to our attention that the electronic poll books used in the August 2 primary election in Davidson County, TN, defaulted to the Republican ballot. Read the whole story here.

This is unbelievable and outrageous. No piece of any equipment that’s part of any election should EVER default to one party or another. Ever. The fact that the electronic poll books default to the majority party an issue that the DavidsonCounty Election Commission (DCEC) must address.

You can read about all about how the electronic poll books work and who was affected here, but it first came to our a few days after the election when Davidson County resident Karen Lawrence said [pdf] that when she and her daughter went to vote, her daughter was not asked which ballot she wanted and was automatically given the Republican ballot to vote on.

Ms. Lawrence also overheard a conversation between poll workers:

“My concern was that I overheard the two women who worked the registration desk discussing the error made on my daughter’s first receipt. The older lady who made the error insisted that she “hit Democrat” and that was the 2nd time it had happened to her today. The younger poll worker who ultimately corrected the error responded saying that you have to make sure because “the screen automatically chooses Republican and you have to select Democrat.”

A few days after that, we were contacted by Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall who told us that he also was never asked which ballot he wanted and was automatically given, and then voted on, the Republican ballot. When he realized his mistake, Sheriff Hall immediately phoned Davidson County Election Administrator Albert Tieche to report the error. A few days after that, Mr. Tieche and Sheriff Hall spoke again and Mr. Tieche told Sheriff Hall that yes, the machines do indeed default to the Republican ballot if the poll worker does not choose a ballot.

Tennessee Citizen Action calls for the following:

  • Immediately halt of the use of the EPBs in any and all elections.
  • Complete & independent audit of the August 2 primary.
  • Complete & independent audit of Davidson County Election Commission.
  • The state must notify the TN Attorney General, District Attorney, and US Attorney ASAP to determine if this is a violation of the Voting Rights Act.