Germantown voters protest misleading ballots

Published: Nov. 3, 2008 at 1:40 AM CST|Updated: Nov. 3, 2008 at 2:07 AM CST
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GERMANTOWN, Tenn. (WMC-TV) - A controversy is brewing in Germantown over misleading ballots, and frustrated voters took to the streets this weekend in protest.

"I want my vote back," said voter Teresa Rando.

Rando and her husband Kevin say a sample ballot entitled "Germantown Republican Ballot" listed three alderman candidates and misled voters to believe that the Shelby County Republican Party officially endorsed them.
"It was wrong to have put out this ballot that so closely resembled the republican ballot, so people wouldn't know the difference," she said.

Last week, the Shelby County D.A.'s office decided not to file election violation charges against incumbents Mike Palazzolo and Frank Uhlhorn and former alderman Gary Pruitt, as long as they released a public statement disclosing that they had made the ballot.
"We did not attempt to mislead anybody," said Pruitt. "We put the ballot out in a hurry. We made a mistake by failing to disclose financial responsibility for it."

Although the D.A.'s office isn't filing charges, the issue isn't over.
"It's important to us and to the voters in Germantown to keep the good will that we've created with voters in Germantown intact - to understand before they go vote that we did not make those endorsements," said Germantown Republican Party Chairman Bill Giannini.

"We made a decision not to make endorsements, and this ballot has undermined that."

Kevin Rando says he's upset that the problem wasn't fixed until after roughly 14,000 Germantown residents had voted early. "All the people who took advantage of early voting didn't know what was going on. It may have influenced the election."

Pruitt says they moved as fast as possible to correct their mistake."We have worked with the D.A.'s office to rectify that."
But the election commission says once you vote, there's no taking it back.
A group of voters will return to the corner of Poplar and Germantown Pkwy. during Monday morning rush hour to wave their protest signs.

The other candidates in this case are seeking further legal action, and plan to hold a news conference Monday.

Click here to e-mail Kontji Anthony.