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Republicans Allege Vote Fraud in Nashville: updated

October 23, 2008

Seems that your good pal Phil Valentine and Lynn Greer, a Republican member of the Davidson Co. Elections Committee, are claiming that “someone” was bringing in van loads of “non-English speaking Mexicans” to vote at an unnamed early voting location in Nashville. Moreover, they were escorted by a translator who informed poll workers that she would accompany these people into the booth and translate the ballots for them. They did not present identification. Then, Ray Barrett, Davidson County Administrator of Elections, instructed his employees to refuse to allow any of these individuals to vote.

Calls were made to Brook Thompson, Tennessee State Elections Coordinator, who overruled Barrett and allowed these people to vote.

Who is right? Who is wrong? Many people, and not who you are reflexively thinking.

First, the most obvious issue is the identification problem. Here we’re lacking in key facts regarding the procedure here. Reports say that the people did not present identification. Did the poll workers ask, as they are supposed to? The Tennessee Code regarding elections procedure clearly mentions the registrar as the actor who must request this information of the voter.

There seems to be an assumption on the part of the “whistle blowers” that the people who voted at this unnamed polling place did not have identification. We don’t know that. Even if they did not, they can still vote. The Tennessee code speaks thus:

If a voter is unable to present any evidence of identification specified in subsection (c), the voter shall be required to execute an affidavit of identity on a form provided by the county election commission.

They may still vote.

And in the following section:

(3) (A) A person shall be entitled to vote a provisional ballot under the procedures of this section if the voter claims to be properly registered in the county and eligible to vote at the precinct in the election, but whose eligibility cannot be determined by the computer signature list or by examination of the permanent registration records on file with the county election commission.

Now, to the matter of language. From the report of the incident:

The Davidson County Election Commission, including its Democrat [sic] members, decided that the individuals would not be allowed to vote on the grounds that since they were unable to speak, understand, or read English, they could not possibly be citizens, and therefore were not qualified to vote.

This is a prima facie violation of the 14th Amendment. How can you disenfranchise someone based on your assessment that “they could not possibly be citizens?”

Did these people follow any kind of procedure whatsoever? Were there any formal challenges made? Did the officials present ask any questions of these people through their interpretor, simple ones like, “are you registered to vote in TN?” “are you a citizen?” If there is an official challenge, these questions may be asked without violation of a right.

Some person, a caller to Valentine, claimed that someone in need of a translator must make a request that one be present, that no person can just show up and claim they will act as a translator, and that that is “state law.” It is not in the Tennessee Code, at least, and if there are any policies and procedures manuals from Davidson County online I haven’t found one.

Without more information, we cannot say what really happened. From the description given, Thompson made the proper decision. That several people barged pass the poll workers and just started voting willy nilly doesn’t pass the smell test. At the very least, these persons should have been given a provisional ballot and sent on their way.

Valentine has been on the case, of course, but has not found anyone to pursue the matter. I’m gonna take a wild guess and say that he hasn’t been able to get anyone to pursue it because there is nothing to pursue.

The real story here is that we all need to be vigilant, not of those nefarious Democrats trying to steal the election by sneaking in “Mexicans” to vote illegally. Not everyone working the polls is up on procedure.

the original post has many of the facts corrected now, like there were no “Van loads” of “mexicans,” it was a Cuban couple THAT DID IN FACT HAVE IDENTIFICATION and had requested translation assistance. Do we know what the Republicans are trying to do down here now?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 28, 2008 7:16 pm

    This would not be surprising… I just remembered that the Ophelia Ford election had to be overturned, due to voting issues.

    Here is another case, from the previous decade, from another southern state; I hope that Louisiana has finally cleaned up its act, though:

    They’re Stealing the Election!Readers Digest, Trevor Armbrister, August 1997

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