Tennessee Democrats want the US Department of Justice to be a part of election voting

Published: Aug. 18, 2022 at 10:27 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Tennessee Democrats are making good on their election night promise to bring high-powered legal eagles into the Shelby County election process.

Action News 5 has learned the U.S. Department of Justice has been asked to get involved. Local democrats were not pleased with the August 4 election, questioning the integrity of the vote counting, the lack of paper receipts at the polls, and extra postage being required on absentee ballots. Now with eigtty-two days until the November election, they’ve asked federal authorities to intervene.

Despite a blue wave sweeping Memphis during the election two weeks ago, democrats have many questions about the fairness of Shelby County elections and the officials who are in charge of the election commission. “We want to make sure that we ensure the integrity of the election,” State Representative G.A. Hardaway of Memphis told Action News 5, “the only way we can see right now to do that is to bring in the Department of Justice.”

Rep. Hardaway confirmed he sent a letter to the U.S. Department of Justice, expressing concern about the GOP-controlled Shelby County Election Commission. The two democrats on the five-member election commission voiced similar worries on election day.

“Unfortunately, it is just a rogue operation,” said Election Commissioner Vanecia Belser Kimbrow, “where the administrator basically does whatever she wants to do, under the authority of a chairman who believes he is the authority and can do whatever he wants to do.”

“I’ve asked for all of our policies since I’ve been a sitting commissioner,” Election Commissioner Bennie Smith said, “and I’ve been here since 2019, and I haven’t seen any policies.”

Commissioners Smith and Kimbrow said they weren’t allowed access to the server room where the votes are tabulated. Former Shelby County Mayor and republican Mark Luttrell is chairman of the election commission.

“Well, I’m not allowed in the server room,” he said, “all of the commissioners are allowed to go back in the general working area.”

When asked about the DOJ getting involved, Shelby County Elections Administrator Linda Phillips released the following statement:

“We welcome any review of our processes, as our goal is to provide transparent and fair elections for voters and candidates in Shelby County. Like any voting members of the public, Election Commissioners are allowed anywhere in our offices except the actual rooms where tabulation takes place, which is for the safety and security of every vote cast. Alternatively, they can view through large picture windows that openly provide a full view of the tabulation process.”

With new voting equipment debuting this November, democrats are determined to make sure the voting process is free, fair, and honest.

“Transparency and accountability ensure the integrity of the vote,” said Rep. Hardaway, “so we know what we’re doing. And we know what we need to do to protect the election process, and we’re going to do it. We are prepared.”

The Shelby County Election Commission meets next Monday to certify the results of the August 4 election. Rep. Hardaway says he, along with attorneys for the democratic party, plans on attending.

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