Election Commission receives complaint regarding early voting results

By Thomas Wilson

STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   The state's Coordinator of Elections has received a complaint regarding early voting totals in the county's general election in August.
   County Administrator of Election Tracy Harris said the commission had received a complaint regarding the totals of early voting being a matter of public knowledge prior to election day.
   Early voting was conducted in the county on Monday through Friday and Saturday from July 12 to July 27. Election day was Aug. 1. State law prohibits the votes for any candidate to be totaled until after all polls in the county are closed.
   According to state law, after each voting machine used in early voting has been processed in the same manner, all the envelopes containing printer tapes and memory cartridges are to be locked and sealed in ballot boxes and stored in a secure location until election day.
   "Once early voting is over, the cartridges are removed and sealed in envelopes until election night," said Harris. "The sealed envelopes were in the vault."
   District Attorney General Joe Crumley also confirmed Friday that his office had received a complaint about whether any Carter County election results had been released prior to the day of election.
   Crumley said he had forwarded the complaint to state Coordinator of Elections Brook Thompson in Nashville.
   "What I've learned in the past couple of years is, every election I'm probably going to be getting a call," said Crumley. "I first go to Brook Thompson to review it to see if any allegations are found and if they are, we would look for the appropriate agency to investigate it."
   The state Election Commission investigates the administration of the election laws and reports violations to the district attorney general or grand jury for prosecution.
   "We have heard something about that and are looking into it," Thompson told the Star on Friday. He declined to elaborate on the nature of the complaint, but said the Commission would be reviewing the complaint.
   Harris presented election summary report sheets compiled from the cartridges that were run on election night. She said the commission ran a summary report at 7:08 p.m. on election night that had all zero vote totals for precincts, absentee and early voting records.
   "We run that before the polls close to make sure it runs properly and then to give us the vote totals," said Harris.
   The county's absentee vote totals were compiled and printed at 10:36 p.m. and early voting totals were run at 10:48 p.m. on election night, according to printout reports.
   The county uses the MicroVote electronic voting machines in both early voting and on election day. Harris also presented documents where one voting tabulator was sent to the MicroVote company in Indiana for repairs on July 8.
   The commission received another voting machine from MicroVote on July 31, according to the company's repair tag receipt.
   State law reads that ballot boxes used in early voting are to be locked with one lock provided by a county election commissioner of the majority party and another lock provided by a commissioner of the minority party. The commissioners shall retain the keys personally, according to state law.