Tennessee early voters given wrong ballot

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July 30, 2012

Tennessee

By Jennifer Springer

NASHVILLE, Tennessee: On July 27, 2012 election officials called for closer scrutiny of a contest in the state's largest county after reports that more than 5 percent of voters have gotten the wrong ballot during early voting.[1] Tennessee Election Coordinator Mark Goins said he has asked the state comptroller's office to do a performance audit of the vote in Shelby County after describing the situation as "a mess."[1][2]

The state stepped in on the next to last day of early voting after voting database expert Joe Weinberg estimated more than 2,300 voters, or roughly 5 percent of voters in Shelby county, cast votes on the wrong ballot.[1] Officials are saying that the mistakes are largely the result of redistricting and affect state legislative races.[1] Voters who already cast incorrect early ballots will not be allowed to vote again, and officials are urging voters who think their ballot is wrong to tell a poll worker before casting their ballots.[1]

In a letter from Goins and Secretary of State Tre Hargett to the comptroller requesting the audit, it was noted that the election problems in Shelby County have stretched back about a decade.[1] In 2010, an election official loaded the wrong information into an electronic toll book, indicating that thousands of voters had cast ballots when they hadn't.[1] Candidates in 2006 sued the county election commission, alleging that irregularities affected the outcome of a county general election and in a 2005 special election to fill a vacant seat, the election was voided because ballots were cast by ineligible felons and dead people.[1]

Richard Holden, Shelby county's Administrator of Elections, told the Associated Press on July 27 that the commission was working to make sure that no more mistakes were made.[1]

Goins has stated that he wishes to get the matter corrected by August 2 primary and expects to have an "error free" general election in November.[1]

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