Lt. Governor Ramsey Intends To Obstruct Fair Elections
Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey’s intention to bring up legislation in the Senate delaying the implementation of a law requiring the use of paper ballots is more proof that Republicans want to obstruct fair and verifiable elections in Tennessee.
“Sen. Ramsey, Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Election Coordinator Mark Goins have dug in their heels on this issue,” Forrester said. “They are trying to make the argument that there are no voting machines capable of both scanning paper ballots and adhering to Tennessee law.
“That is utter nonsense and only a tactic to delay fair and verifiable elections. Mr. Ramsey and his Republican cronies are not above the law. Just think, this man wants to be governor of our state. We certainly do not need a governor who refuses to follow our laws or the will of the people.”
Citing an opinion issued by the General Assembly’s Office of Legal Services, Hargett has refused to implement the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act. The law requires all county election commissions make the switch to optical scan machines and paper ballots before the November 2010 election.
The opinion refers to voting system standards and whether Tennessee law directly mandates that machines purchased adhere to the 2002 or 2005 guidelines adopted by the federal Election Assistance Commission.
“That opinion is weak,” Forrester said. “Even the EAC says its guidelines are voluntary, which means the Secretary of State has the authority to go ahead and purchase the machines as the law stands now.”
Tennessee has more than $35 million in federal funds set aside to purchase the optical scan machines and train election workers to use the voting technology.
Ramsey recently told the Kingsport Times-News that a bill delaying implementation of the law until 2012 will top his legislative agenda next year.
“We deserve leaders who obey our laws, understand our concerns and work tirelessly to serve us,” Forrester said. “These officials are either conspiring to deny basic voter rights or they are stubbornly ignorant.
“Either way, Tennesseans cannot afford to have this kind of leadership running our government,” he added.