State Election Commission Dismissive of Citizens’ Concerns About Election Integrity and Said the Issue of Paper Ballots Should be Taken Up with Legislators

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NASHVILLE, Tennessee – While citizens spoke about issues related to election integrity before the State Election Commission at its regularly scheduled meeting Monday at the William R. Snodgrass Tower, commission members were defensive and dismissive of the citizens’ concerns and said that the issue of hand-marked paper ballots should be taken up with members of the Tennessee General Assembly.

There were about three dozen people in attendance at the meeting, not just from counties adjacent to Nashville such as Williamson and Rutherford, but as far as away as Cannon, Hamilton, Hardin and Putnam counties as well.

The seven State Election Commission members, elected by the General Assembly are Donna Barrett, Murfreesboro; Judy Blackburn, Morristown who is the Chair; Greg Duckett, Memphis; Jimmy Eldridge, Jackson; Mike McDonald, Portland; Tom Wheeler, Clinton; and Kent Younce, LaFollette.

Under the category of old business on the agenda, a presentation was made by four of the eight members of the Williamson County Voters for Election Integrity. The group, who made a presentation previously before the commission and had also met with Elections Coordinator Mark Goins and Secretary of State Tre Hargett, has spent since the beginning of the year doing research and putting together best practices and solutions to issues they identified out of the November 2020 election.

In early September, as The Tennessee Star reported, the group comprised of two former chief information officers, a library science data analyst, a 40-year IT professional, a process engineer and several communication executives gave a similar presentation to citizens in Franklin.

The group’s spokesperson, Frank Limpus, started out by saying that a vast number of citizens that is continuing to grow are not comfortable with what they are seeing with regard to election integrity. He pointed out that they are the customers or clients and they feel that legislators and public officials are not listening to them.

As Limpus started the first portion of the presentation, it wasn’t more than five minutes before Commissioner Duckett showed his impatience and interrupted to ask Limpus approximately how long the presentation was going to take, to which Limpus responded about 35 minutes.

When process engineer Eric Alison started his portion of the presentation, he expressed great appreciation for the contributions of the commission to the state and said they want to support them.

“We have a passion for our state.  We have a passion for our country, and our goal is to help protect the sanctity of our vote. To ensure that, we as Tennesseans need to secure what we call one person, one vote.”

Alison made the point that data is a sacred commodity that must be protected and driven toward improvement. He went on to say that because voter ID numbers, that are sequential and reassigned when inactive, they have a recommendation, when he was cut off by Goins.

Goins said that what is released to the public is a sequential number, but that it means nothing to election officials because for their purposes, they use the full social security number that is unique and not duplicated.

Alison was appreciative of the information that was new to them and went on to talk about the voter roll maintenance program that is written as occurring once every two years. Goins again interrupted saying that there is a federal law that says a comprehensive list purge cannot occur 90 days before an election, and last year there were three federal elections in March, August and November.

Goins said that every two years is inaccurate, because they do it daily.

Limpus jumped in to explain that Williamson County’s process is every two years, when he was called out by Duckett to allow Goins to finish his statement. Limpus then asked if, in the interest of time, questions could be held to the end, so they could get through the presentation.

“No!” snapped Duckett and Blackburn simultaneously.

Goins said that there is just one county – Williamson – that had over 100 percent registered voters and that’s because at one time it was the fastest growing county in the United States, or at least the top ten.

“Frankly, you cannot keep up with the population.”

Goins also said that to comply with federal law, every two years they do a comprehensive death list in addition to the daily death list, but didn’t elaborate on why a comprehensive list was necessary if they do it daily.

Kathy Harms, joining people from at last seven other states, traveled at her own expense last week to the Dallas, Texas area to visit Authentix, experts in authentication and currency-grade anti-counterfeit technology.

Harms shared with commission members a prototype hand-marked paper ballot initially introduced to her by Arizona State Representative Mark Finchem at a Nashville meeting when he was the featured speaker that was developed by Authentix and includes 8 security “gates.”  The sample ballot was passed around with a UV blacklight to demonstrate the ballot’s watermark.

Harms made the point that with the use of ballot marking devices (BMDs), the ballot is vendor-supplied and is insecure, because it is printed on demand. The voter cannot verify their ballot when read by the tabulator, because the tabulator reads a QR code and not the human-readable text on the ballot.

BMD memory cards are not retained as artifacts, like paper ballots would be and the machines are not backed up before being reset, said Harms, citing a number of other BMD-related issues.

She suggested that there be a “firewall” between marking the ballot and tabulating the ballot.

“We are actually pretty doggone good in so many ways,” said Harms, in particular about not having a no-excuse mail-in ballot provision.

The majority of Tennessee voters in Tennessee, however, do not have any access to a paper ballot. As many as 2.6 million – or 59 percent – of Tennessee voters vote on direct-recording electronic voting machines or DREs that use buttons or touchscreens and have no voter verified paper audit trail (VVPAT).

Commissioner Younce said that at their last meeting, a motion was made to only allow paper ballots, which got a second but no vote. It would have passed, said Younce, because the commission approves of paper ballots, but he doesn’t think they have the authority to change the ways in which the state votes.

“Over on the hill is the capital building, and that’s where you need to go,” instructed Younce. He added that Williamson County has a great advocate in their State Senator and Majority Leader Jack Johnson.

“You need to go over their and talk to them about the paper ballot situation,” said Younce.

Goins said that the posture they are in is that all the vendors have agreed to not market DREs, but will continue to service them. All have agreed to not market a system without an auditable paper trail, although MicroVote will only have a receipt under glass that the voter can see.

When Limpus responded that when another supplier, Hart, was asked about the paper, they said it would have to be purchased through them which gets back to a concern whereby the vendor controls the process by controlling the paper.

Goins objected to having a separate supplier for the ballot, saying “You gotta purchase the paper from someone.” He said he would rather purchase from a vendor that’s “on the line,” apparently rather than the supplier who specializes in authentication and uses unique identifiers and several security pieces within the ballot.

Goins also challenged the use of hand-marked paper ballots, implying that it would somehow limit voter convenience.

The discussion moved on to voting at precincts versus convenience centers, which the voter integrity group says has its own vulnerabilities and may be linked to issues in harvesting votes in Pima County, Arizona.

When Harms said she could provide additional information on the situation in Pima County, Duckett once again expressed his displeasure.

“We have to make decisions based on facts and if you’re going to make a recommendation, and I apologize to the last speaker, and then leave the podium, not having substantiated that accusation and say you’ll get the information back to us later, that’s not fair to me and my time just as I’ve been trying to thumb through this it doesn’t match that. I’m all over the place right now.”

Harms explained that she was just really trying to present on secure hand-marked paper ballots that is independent of the vendor and that issue of the voting centers was not her area of expertise, but came up because of its relationship to the process.

Duckett responded, “I would have respected, I apologize for interrupting, I would have respected your answer more had you acknowledged that’s not my area of expertise.”

Limpus, in response to an earlier question about back-up documentation, said he had a 100-page booklet for each of the members that backs up everything they presented with links, articles and white papers.

He said the presentation was constantly being updated with new information that came in over the weekend.

Barrett, obviously unhappy with his explanation, said to Limpus, “If you had time to put that together and have it here to hand out, I got a report as late as this morning, I spent the weekend researching this, reading over it, making my notes being prepared for this.”

Limpus said he asked for permission to give them the documents that morning and pointed out, “We’re just citizens and we’re trying to fit all of this in. We’re not paid, we’re volunteers and we’re doing everything we can to do this research.”

What was not mentioned during the meeting is that the group was given a deadline of midday on Saturday to submit their materials or be canceled from the agenda, a stipulation that could not be identified in any rules of the commission.

After an exchange between Younce and Limpus about issues that occurred in Williamson County with potentially similar situations statewide during the 2020 election, Younce implied that there were conspiracy theories and that he didn’t know how an election could be stolen.

I think everybody in this room has seen the news, we’ve read the papers, we’ve listened to the talking shows, CNN, Fox News and everything of all the conspiracy theorists that we’re hearing. I was on the county election in Campbell County before I came on the State Election commission and my son is currently on the county election commission and, man, if you can steal an election, I don’t know how in the heck you can do it. We’ve got DREs and I did not like the machines, because they don’t produce a paper audit trail and I was totally against them whenever we bought them in Campbell County we spent $800,000 on them.

Limpus confirmed that their group was not looking back on 2020, but toward the future.

“We’re not talking anything about re-legislating 2020. It’s done. It’s gone. It’s over. What we’re looking at and are really concerned about is the future, so we looked into things and saw issues that some of them are a couple of big issues.”

Limpus said they tried to give best practices for 51 issues they identified, and were not casting aspersions or pointing fingers.

Another of the group’s members, Jeff Duncan, discussed improvements to the audit process and pointed out that currently a proper audit cannot be conducted because there is no paper ballot.

“We appreciate citizens for getting involved,” Goins responded, “but in all candor, we’ve been doing this for a number of years. It’s good to have outside ideas, but we’ve put a lot of thought process in to make sure there’s security.”

Goins, however, agreed that the audit should be improved and that there needs to be a provision for a hand count.

He went on to say that there were risk limiting audits in Georgia and Arizona and a lot of the states that are seen in the news, and yet people are still questioning those results.

Goins questioned whether risk limiting audits is really going to ensure voter confidence, because there are still going to be someone who loses and question the integrity of the election.

No matter the number of audits or the depth of the audit, like the forensic audit in Arizona, Goins said, perhaps it was because they didn’t look at everything.

“At some point, it’s got to stop.”

Duncan agreed that there will always be people who will change elections, but that a statistically sound audit would be one they could stand behind. “Until you’ve done it once, I don’t think you can be certain yourself,” Duncan told Goins.

Goins said he has assurances, because he knows the laws in Tennessee, adding, “I’ve read every theory that’s been promoted out there and it’s just impossible for those theories to happen in Tennessee, because of the way we’ve set up our process.”

“I’d challenge you to look at the RTR – results, tally and reporting – systems. Williamson County said it could occur,” Duncan responded.

“Could occur and did occur is two different things,” Goins replied.

Duncan agreed, but said that there’s an opportunity because of the holes.

Goins argued, “If I’m a poll worker and no one’s around, I could go through and mark every paper ballot that’s there. That doesn’t mean it’s going to occur. And that’s where things start getting conflated and you have misinformation, and the danger you’ve got now is that you’ve got folks that aren’t going to vote, because they don’t trust the system and a lot of the information that’s out there is just truly misinformation that happens one day on the news and two days later it gets proven wrong.”

Duncan said he disagreed with that, but if there was a statewide audit, it would give some ammunition to push back.

Goins relinquished and said he looked forward to working with Duncan on some of those things and that he thinks Duncan would like some of the research they’ve done.

Limpus resumed the presentation to talk about issues identified from the Williamson County “deep dive,” that they determined fell in three categories of technological, process and legislative and covered one of each of those topics.

His final point – that voting machines can be hacked – is the foundation of citizens’ concerns and is one that recertification of the machines is not going to stop the ire of the citizens.

The commission had previously agreed to recertify the currently approved voting machines before the regularly scheduled recertification, and were supposed to discuss the issue at a meeting scheduled for October 25.

Limpus backed up his assertion with a video clip of J. Alex Halderman, University of Michigan Professor of Computer Science and Engineering testifying in 2017 before Congress about the voting machine’s vulnerability to sabotage and cyberattacks.

Another video clip featured Democrats criticizing voting machines as recently as 2019. Limpus also mentioned the DefCon 2019 report on the Voting Village hack of the ImageCast system.

Goins was dismissive of the Voter Village exercise, saying that it is not a realistic scenario and that “it’s easy to talk about without actually being there.”

He also said he knows who Professor Halderman is and has attended his presentations. He asserted that people like to cite him until they hear what he said about Antrim County, Michigan that there was no adjudication and nothing happened with the equipment.

Limpus retorted that Halderman is also on record about Georgia, and that they could go back and forth about experts. He went on to mention Harry Hursti, when Goins interrupted.

“I’ve had dinner with Hursti, we’ve gone out to dinner,” said Goins which prompted a small outburst from the crowd.

He said that a lot of the conversations started after the 2004 election, when someone connected to a voting machine company said they were doing to deliver Ohio for Bush.

Goins said, “I can go back for election after election after election and you will see typically the person who loses comes up and says this is what happened. And it’s been clearly, can do it since 2000. In 2004, you know in 2016, supposedly Russia hacked the elections. You know 2008 the issue wasn’t that someone hacked the election, it’s that they weren’t born in the United States.”

Goins did not cite any examples of a candidate who won the election and then claimed that someone hacked the election.

Limpus then asked Goins if he disagrees with all of the Congress people and what they said in 2019 about the hackability of the machines.

“I think that any system that you can design can have issues and nefarious people can come in there. That’s why you put the processes in place to ensure that it doesn’t happen,” Goins said.

He went on to explain that because of the bi-partisan system, one party won’t let the other party cheat.

In Georgia, there is a similar bi-partisan system in place, and The Star News has reported extensively on numerous irregularities with the November 2020 election in the state.

Goins went on to list some of the back end processes and training that is done in the counties. “So, I mean these things keep us up at night, so you don’t have to stay up all night.”

Limpus went on to explain that he’s just passing on what consumers are saying and that if the group identifies something, they want to bring it to them as the ones able to make the change and effect greater election security and integrity.

Chair Blackburn interrupted, “Mr. Limpus, Mr. Limpus. Commissioner Duckett has something to say but I’m going to say it first.  I’m not going to tell you how old I am, but I could not wait until I was 21 to vote. And I have been voting ever since and I have always heard about elections being stolen. Some from some way or the other, each party, people don’t know what they’re talking about and,” out of the clear blue, she said, “you know I’m kind of I don’t like my integrity being questioned either.”

Duckett added, “Madame Chair, in that regard what I would propose is that rather than us continue with this phase of the meeting, if there is additional information that you have not provided.”

Limpus handed Duckett the booklet and said here it is.

Duckett said, “Please provide it to us and we can review it and you don’t have to stand there and continue to present,” obviously trying to end the presentation.

Limpus told Duckett it was no problem, he could stand there all day.

Duckett, sounding annoyed, replied, “I’m not going to stand here or sit here all day, I’m going to tell you that now.”

Limpus made the point that they asked to save questions until the end.

Duckett brought up the 35 minute estimate Limpus gave at the start of the presentation and said he is sure the group spoke for more than that.

“What I’m asking at this point, and I’ll put a motion before the body if that’s what we need, but I’m asking that you just provide the balance of the material so we can read it in totality and in sequence. I’ve been looking at this, as I said earlier, I’m looking at that, there’s a white page, just give me the information and let me do my homework. How long are you going to or I don’t need you to stand up there and tell me what you’re going to tell me and have to go back and read it myself,” said Duckett

That drew the building ire of the attendees.

Colby Brown said aloud, “It’s your job. We work and we” before he was cut off by Duckett who turned in Brown’s direction to say, “I work a job. I work a job also.”

“This is your job, sir.  My job – I took time off to come to this, so you could sit here and listen to this because it’s your job,” Brown told Duckett.

Jeri Thompson, wife of the late U.S. Senator from Tennessee and 2008 presidential candidate Fred Thompson, asked, “What do you have to do that’s more important than sit here and listen to what our concerns are? Shouldn’t we be allowed to ask questions. I mean, what is it that you have to do that is more important than to listen to our concerns, sir and madame?”

After another comment by Brown, Blackman sought to regain control of the meeting and said that there were other people wanting to speak. At his request, Blackman granted Limpus five more minutes.

Limpus pointed out that the EAC – U.S. Election Assistance Commission – is a very weak process, not the least of which is that the standards were developed in 2005 – two years before the first smart phone was launched in 2007. Manuals for the voting machines used in Williamson County infer in at least two process, that there is a network connection.

Duncan came back to the podium to propose a new process that would include a six-person, bi-partisan committee that would include a range of experts to determine minimum standards for Tennessee, rather than relying on standards of a federal agency from 2005.

Barrett said thank you for the compilation and said, as one of the geeks on the committee, she will probably read every page of it over the next week or so.

Barrett said that with some of the best practices that are listed, she would know if they are being done in Tennessee and are not an issue of concern that a voter picking it up for the first time wouldn’t know.

“That’s going to make all of our jobs much more difficult.”

I notice one of the comments was talking about the connection of poll books. I know that’s an issue being connected electronically. Voters don’t understand there’s a difference between a voting machine and a poll book and that those two aren’t connected. That’s two separate hardware things out there.  I don’t want to flame fires unnecessarily. I’m going to have to answer questions, perhaps somebody might come up and pose this to me on page 45 that says such and such then I’m going to have to go, no Tennessee already does 20 of those 25 best practices and in some of those best practices listed I think all the ones shown up here, Tennessee already does. I want to help causes, but I want the cause’s information to be correct and not blame us unnecessarily. So that’s what I ask with the information presented is if it’s factual, yes, if we’re already doing it, point it out. One, so that we’re not questioned about it, and two, maybe give us a little credit for actually staying up late at night and catching those things and watching them.

Limpus said he appreciated the point and that the group’s intention is to bring information. When they presented an earlier version on July 7 to Goins and Hargett, the group asked for them to tell them where they were wrong, but hadn’t heard anything since.

Once Limpus concluded with thanking the commission for being gracious with their time, Blackburn recognized Sharon Spiegel.

Spiegel, a citizen not involved with the previous group, said she was a registered dietician whose favorite title is grandma.

She said she is like a lot of voters who have a sense that there’s something wrong with our election system, even if they don’t really know what it is.

Fear drove her to do extensive research, only a portion of which she brought with her to share with the commission members.

Spiegel mentioned an article by Dr. Andrew Appell, a Princeton University Dean of the Department of Computer Science and Cybersecurity, “Georgia’s Election Certification Avoided an even Worse Nightmare that’s just Waiting to Happen Next Time,” when she was interrupted by Younce.

“If you’re going to talk about Georgia or other states, I’m really not interested. I’ve heard all that.”

Spiegel tried to explain that the reason the February 2021 research article is pertinent is that Williamson County uses the same system.

One of the other commissioners barked at the grandmother, “You know, I can read and I appreciate these articles. I’ll be glad to read them. I don’t think we need an explanation of what the article is saying.”

When Spiegel, obviously flustered said, “Ok, well,” he went after her demanding, “One other question. Do you have any proof of fraud in Tennessee? Any proof? I want to see facts.”

Spiegel said, “I attended the September the 9th” before he interrupted against and shouted, “No! I want proof!”

She said at the Williamson County Election Commission meeting there was proof by the way of a people who said their vote was flipped by the ballot marking device and that is what she was looking into when he cut her off again.

“Just because they said that, does that prove it?”

Of course, election rules prohibit in polling locations the use of cell phones and, therefore, cell phone cameras that could record what is happening with the BMDs.

As Spiegel started to respond, attendees shouted, “Yes!”

“I’ve heard all kinds of claims. I would like to see some factual proof. Not opinion, not what somebody said, not assumptions,” the commissioner demand.

Attendees questioned if it was not the commission’s job to determine if there was fraud.

Spiegel did go on to point out that a ballot marking device cannot be audited, they are not contestable, and no amount of testing can determine if the BMDs alter election outcomes.

Through her research, Spiegel discovered this with this hole it is, therefore, important to return to a hand-marked paper ballot, which the attendees applauded.

As she explained she is not a computer scientist but a regular person who can read, Younce interrupted her. Spiegel asked that he let her finish, “I’m not going to keep you forever.”

Younce questioned her, “Do you realize that Williamson County purchased those voting machines? The state does not purchase the machines for Williamson County.”

Spiegel said Secretary of State Tre Hargett is purchasing the machines under the Help America Vote election security funds of 2018 to 2019 and the federal government gave $8.746 million in grants and Tennessee contributed $1.695 million for seven counties, including Williamson.

Then Blackman interrupted her to say that Secretary Hargett gives the county election commission the authority to buy the machines.

Armed with her research, Spiegel responded, “But, they only have so many machines that they can choose from and that comes from the state. That is what [Williamson County Election Commission] Chairman Brown has told us at the meetings. The state gives them the machines that they can choose from.”

Blackman revealed to Spiegel, “And we don’t have strictly paper ballots available in the state of Tennessee.”

Spiegel, admitting they made her nervous, went on to say that she thinks we are in violation of the 2020 voter act that required a voter verified paper ballot. And, as previous speakers mentioned, the BMD in use in Williamson County is not voter verifiable, because the optical scanner only reads the QR code.

She went on to say that in reading other reports, including that from DefCon 2018, Spiegel was “absolutely appalled” that it was so easy for the cybersecurity people to hack our national election and it was publicized to the entire world.

In a 2016 report, it plainly says that the U.S. election process has been at risk since the widespread adoption of electronic voting systems in 2002 to 2006.

Also bringing up the 2005 standards, she used the analogy of her husband who is a retired oncologist.

“If you went to him and he treated your cancer with 2005 standards, state of the art, you would not only get a new doctor, you would sue him for malpractice,” which attendees applauded to.

When Spiegel brought up a complaint filed by former EAC board member Dr. Philip Stark in the District Court of D.C., Duckett interrupted her.

“Unless you’re going to provide for us the response to the complaint, that’s just one person’s idea. I don’t want anyone in this room to take what Mr. Stark is saying in his complaint as being true.  The court has not ruled on this,” Duckett dismissed.

Spiegel tried to explain that Dr. Stark was on the board of the EAC and resigned because secret meetings were held with voting vendors and rules were subsequently changed to allow wireless communications and the removal of security locks.

Duckett told Spiegel he is a lawyer for Baptist Healthcare Corporation with 22 hospitals and 2,500 employees and diminished the signing of a complaint. “I just don’t want any of us to think that just because Joe Blow has said XYZ, that it’s true.”

After a couple more exchanges between Spiegel and Duckett, Blackman interrupted to dismiss Spiegel with a “Thank you very much.”

Tyna Bryan from Putnam County came forward to explain how she moved into her home in 2017 and continues to get mail, including voter registration information for previous deceased owners of the home. She brought the issue to the election commission, but has been unable to remove the dead people from the voter rolls. A lengthy back and forth occurred with Goins covering details about the type of mail received, the interactions with the county elections office and potential reasons that the deceased people are still on the voter rolls.

Bryan then went on to compliment the Williamson County group’s presentation and say that she has clients all over the country and they are not confident in the elections. She also made a point of twice saying she doesn’t have cable and doesn’t watch the news, which seemed to address the earlier point from Younce about conspiracy theories.

As a business owner, Bryan said if she was hearing from all of her customers that they want paper ballots, she would like to know what Tennesseans need to do for the commission to get rid of the machines and go to paper ballots.

Blackman responded, “That is not the state election commission.”

Bryan said she has talked to state legislators and been to the capital, but hasn’t gotten any answer from them and asked what could be done through the commission.

Blackman tried to end it there by saying, “You are not the first person and you won’t be the last person, but I appreciate you speaking.”

Barrett told Bryan, that she has had the distinct pleasure of serving both rolls.

“I was an elected state representative as have been other members on this board, Coordinator Goins, we served together and now I’m on this board. I can’t speak for your state representative or senator, but I can tell you when I was in office, I gave those responses.”

Barrett suggested, “If you’re unhappy with your elected officials, vote them out of office.”

The irony of using voting equipment that cannot be trusted by the voters to elect new representation was not lost on the attendees, given the audible reactions.

Bryan then said what attendees were likely thinking, “If we have potentially crooked machines, we have no confidence that the person in office actually is who we voted for. That’s the problem.  This is just a circle of drama that we don’t need.”

Duckett then took over to explain that he served on the Shelby County Election Commission for 10 years with four of those being chairman and recounted over the course of several minutes a situation of voter fraud that occurred during that period.

Bryan alluded to the questioning of integrity comment from earlier and said she was not there to do that and that she didn’t care if Donald Trump won versus Joe Biden. For her and most people she knows, it is not about who won, but about faith in the system.

She said the lack of faith was because of the technology and the lack of control over it.

“You just said yourself, you don’t have control, the state does. The legislators do. So, are we to question their integrity?” Bryan asked.

“No!” Blackman snapped, to laughter from the attendees.

Bryan questioned why the machines continue to be used when the majority of people don’t have confidence in them. As a business owner, Bryan said that when she makes a mistake she owns it, moves forward and fixes it rather than justifying why the mistake was made.

Again, Blackman tried to shut Bryan down with a “Thank you for your input.”

Goins kept the dialogue going by elaborating on the situation Duckett spoke about. He then said he believes we have the cleanest voter rolls in the nation.

He also claimed that paper ballots are not going to fix it, saying that Georgia, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Arizona and Nevada all use paper ballots, without addressing the Williamson County group’s comprehensive solutions. Goins monopolized much of the next few minutes before Bryan went on to ask a final question.

“One last thing I just want to clarify, because I want to be very clear on your answers here. If we want to get rid of the machines completely and go to paper hand count ballot or however whoever wants to do whatever they want to do, our role is to go to our legislators and get them to what – pass a bill, pass a law?” Bryan asked.

Brushing Bryan off, Blackman responded, “Tell ‘em you want paper ballots. Hand-counted paper ballots.”

Bryan asked if it would be through legislation and how much time would be needed to be prepared for the next election.

Barrett told Bryan that there is no way it can take place before the next election. Without discussing the upcoming special sessions, Barrett said the General Assembly won’t go back into session until January and with establishing processes and procedures, “You’re looking at a multi-year process.”

“We get our directions from the legislative record.  There is very little we can do outside of what is dictated to us by state law or by some federal law,” said Barrett.

Barrett explained that it’s not as simple as “Oh, we want to change everything, we’re going to do it at the next county commission meeting.”

Blackman threw up the false argument to Bryan, “Research the Help America Vote Act and tell me how they’re going to vote on a piece of paper.”

According to Verified Voting, nearly 70 percent of U.S. registered voters live in a jurisdiction that uses hand-marked paper ballots for most voters.

After Bryan said she wasn’t familiar with the organization, Goins said Blackman was referring to the ADA, for those who have dexterity issues.

As Bryan continued, Blackman cut her off to say that there are a lot of questions, but she needed to move on with the meeting.

As Chairman, Blackman went on to cancel the next meeting scheduled for October 25, during which there was to be a review of the voting machines for recertification.

Blackman adjourned the meeting after nearly two and a half hours.

– – –

Laura Baigert is a senior reporter with The Star News Network, where she covers stories for The Tennessee Star and The Georgia Star News.

 

 

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2 Thoughts to “State Election Commission Dismissive of Citizens’ Concerns About Election Integrity and Said the Issue of Paper Ballots Should be Taken Up with Legislators”

  1. 83ragtop50

    I quit reading this when I read that Mike McDonald of Portland had been elected to the committee. He wore out his welcome among the voters years ago. At least he was smart enough to read the handwriting on the wall and chose to not run for reelection when it was obvious that his liberal ways were not welcome. Apparently the legislature loves to choose losers for such committees. What a shame.

  2. JRin

    I voted. I selected my choices on one machine and it spit out a printed “receipt”, so I could see that it contained my correct choices. Then I walked over and put this printed “receipt” into another machine, which swallowed it up. I walked out with no record of my vote and not knowing if there even WAS a record of my vote. I don’t trust voting machines. We have excess money in the Tennessee budget, and some could be used to cheat-proof voting.

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