Lawsuit filed against Tennessee Secretary of State and coordinator of elections
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The Tennessee Democratic Party and the Marquita Bradshaw for U.S. Senate campaign filed a lawsuit against state election officials for refusing to release absentee ballot information, as required by state law, a press release says. Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Coordinator of Elections Mark Goings are named as defendants.
Tennessee open records law requires the Secretary of State’s office to release, upon request, a list of voters who have not returned absentee ballots by the end of early voting.
This request is a necessary, routine tool to allow campaigns to encourage voter participation by making voters aware of the status of their absentee ballot and their voting rights, according to the press release.
The Bradshaw campaign is accusing the Secretary of State’s office of refusing to release that information after the campaign, along with the Tennessee Democratic Party, made several requests.
The press release also states that Hargett even instructed all 95 counties' election offices not to release any information.
“Transparent administration of the electoral process is central to our democracy,” Ken Taylor, Bradshaw’s campaign manager, said. “The statute is clear. Voters have a right to know if their vote was received and counted. To not release the names of those who have and have not returned absentee ballots is not only illegal, it erodes the foundation of our democracy and equates to blatant voter suppression.”
WMC Action News 5 reached out to the Secretary of State’s office for a comment, and Julia Bruck, Director of Communications for the Office of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett, responded with the following quote:
“At best the filing is inaccurate and at worst misinformation. With less than 48 hours before the polls open across Tennessee, this filing further distracts county elections officials from their critical work of conducting this election safely, responsibly, and sensibly.”
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