By Chas Sisk | The Tennessean
The Tennessee Democratic Party called for an investigation into early voting statewide amid evidence that more than 1,000 people in Shelby County were given the wrong ballots.
Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said in a statement released Thursday that state officials should review balloting across Tennessee to see whether voters are being given correct ballots in the first legislative and congressional elections since redistricting.
A Memphis blogger and candidate for the Shelby County Election Commission turned up evidence this week that hundreds of voters in Shelby County were erroneously given ballots for a neighboring district.
Local officials have agreed that errors appear to have occurred, but they declined to throw out the ballots.
"The taxpayers funding these elections deserve to know whether their vote counted or it was stolen because of incompetence," Forrester said. "How big is this problem? When will it be fixed? Unfortunately, we don't know because Elections Coordinator Mark Goins has not publicly addressed the issue that 1,000 wrong ballots were cast on his watch."
A spokesman for the secretary of state's office, which oversees elections in Tennessee, said a statewide investigation is not necessary.
"Everyone is aware that the Shelby County Election Commission is having problems," spokesman Blake Fontenay said. "We are trying to help them resolve their issues, but this is not a statewide problem."
Republicans redrew district lines last winter to reflect the results of the 2010 census. Adjustments were made across the state's 132 House and Senate districts, as well as all nine of its congressional districts.
The mistakes appear to have arisen in places where legislators split precincts into two different districts.
No evidence has been presented that similar mistakes were made elsewhere in the state, but the state Democratic Party said a review should be conducted to ensure people vote for the right candidates.
"Republicans have spent the last two years talking about the importance of pure elections and yet they have failed over and over again to protect our voting rights," Forrester said.
Contact Chas Sisk at 615-259-8283 or firstname.lastname@example.org.