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No 'Intentional Misconduct' in Election Commission Audit

The findings of a state audit into voting problems with the August 2 election found no evidence of misconduct, stating the mistakes were simply errors the Shelby County Election Commission failed to correct in a timely manner.
MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The findings of a state audit into voting problems with the August 2 election found no evidence of misconduct, stating the mistakes were simply errors the Shelby County Election Commission failed to correct in a timely manner.

Election Commission Chairman Robert Myers wasn't surprised. "What's really contained in the comptroller's report essentially tracks our own self analysis of what went wrong and why from our perspective," he said.

The Tennessee Comptroller released its audit report Tuesday, October 2 after launching an investigation in August at the request of Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett. Hargett noted the reported issues with the August 2nd election's early voting period were part of "a troubling pattern of errors that cannot go unnoticed."

The Election Commission had cited delayed redistricting for the problems after thousands of voters received the wrong ballot during the early voting period.

Tennessee Comptroller Justin P. Wilson said Tuesday the Shelby County administrator of elections, Richard Holden, did not order updates to reflect redistricting until mid-June, less than a month before early voting began for the Aug. 2 election.

By law, that process should have begun much earlier. The comptroller's office said one reason for the delay was that the county commission took too long to approve its redistricting plan.

Voters complained about receiving incorrect ballots, which led to confusion at the polls. In Shelby County, an estimate of nearly 3,200 voters received incorrect ballots.

The report concluded, in part, "Our review identified no discernible evidence of intentional misconduct or other actions intended to affect or influence the election process or election outcomes in Shelby County. It appears that poor judgment and mistakes were the most likely causes of the ballot errors and that SCEC staff did not identify or correct the ballot errors in a timely manner."

As a result of the election errors, the Election Commission board placed Holden on three days unpaid leave and six months probation, effective August 29.

Meanwhile, the Election Commission has been put on notice by the state to do whatever it takes to make sure this November's elections run as smooth as possible.

Myers stated, "If we're going to reestablish credibility with the public, with the citizens of Shelby County, then we've got to have essentially an error free or a nearly error free November election."

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