Tre Hargett

New online TN voter registration officially operational

News release from Secretary of State’s office
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett is proud to officially launch the state’s new online voter registration system.

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Online voter registration comes to Tennessee

The Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s office has initiated what WPLN calls a “soft launch”of a system that allows Tennesseans to register as voters online, as authorized under a law enacted by the Legislature in 2016 that took effect July 1 of this year.

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Hargett says state law prevents him from turning over requested voter data to Trump commission

A commission set up by President Trump’s administration has asked all 50 states for a list providing the names of all registered voters along with voter information including address, date of birth, political party, the last four digits of their social security number and voter history.

Tennessee is one of at least 27 states – according to a CNN survey – that had publicly declined the request as of Friday. In an email sent to media Friday, Secretary of State Tre Hargett, who oversees Tennessee’s election system, said:

“Although I appreciate the commission’s mission to address election-related issues, like voter fraud, Tennessee state law does not allow my office to release the voter information requested to the federal commission.”

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Haslam budget booster amendment: Surplus money for new state library, roads

With his tax package now approved by the legislature, Gov. Bill Haslam Tuesday proposed some changes to the 2017-18 state budget plan he presented back in February.

Maybe the most notable revisions are the addition of $55 million in supplemental one-time funding (from the current budget surplus) on road projects — beyond what is envisioned in his tax bill, which includes higher gas and diesel fuel taxes — and $40 million towards the $98 million needed to build a new state Library and Archives building, advocated for years by Secretary of State Tre Hargett.

Both of those proposals are virtually guaranteed approval of the legislature as lawmakers get into serious work on the budget next week. The publicly-released documents don’t say which road projects get the new advance funding (but one could speculate that projects in the districts of legislators who voted no on his proposl might not be a high priority). It also appears that the governor is leaving about $125 million in surplus money for legislators to distribute as they, collectively, decide how to spend.

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Roundup of some recent TN politics and policy writing

Gas tax debate brings new legislator titles

In a lengthy review of conservative legislator complaints that they haven’t gotten a fair hearing while opposing Gov. Bill Haslam’s tax plans, Sam Stockard depicts Rep. Jerry Sexton as “apparent leader of the ‘Fire and Brimstone Caucus’.”

Excerpt:

Sexton was so irritated he got into an argument with Tennessee Journal writer “Easy” Ed Cromer, who had the audacity to ask him if he also opposed a cut in the food sales tax, a 1 percent reduction contained in the bill.

“Why don’t you ask me if I’m against F&E and the Hall tax (cuts)? You want to pick out something,” Sexton argued.

Cromer, who could be the most laid-back member in the Capitol Hill Press Corps, bristled at the suggestion he was being unfair – at least as much as he can bristle – and after a short back-and-forth with Sexton left the scene of the crime (We’ve got a lot of folks storming out these days).

On the other hand, Tennessee Star – which has hailed Sexton’s efforts and commentary – has taken to referring to Rep. Barry Doss, R-Leoma, who has taken the lead in pushing Haslam’s bill in the House – as “Boss Doss” in criticizing his commentary.

The latest example, under the headline “Boss Doss Claim That Tennessee is Lowest Taxed State in Nation Contradicted by Kiplinger Report” is HERE.

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Lawsuit says ‘Division of Corporate Services’ duping businesses

News release from attorney general’s office

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert H. Slatery III, along with Secretary of State Tre Hargett and Division of Consumer Affairs Director Cynthia Wiel, today announced the filing of a lawsuit in Davidson County Chancery Court against three individuals for violating the Tennessee Consumer Protection Act.

According to the lawsuit, Chad Davis and Joshua Strawn of Florida and Tate Howe of California have been doing business in Tennessee as Division of Corporate Services and Annual Business Services over the past few years.

Multiple businesses, registered with the Tennessee Secretary of State, have reported receiving a solicitation from the two private companies. The companies offer to create annual corporate meeting minutes for a fee of up to $150.  The solicitations, titled “Annual Minutes Form” and “Annual Records Statement,” look official and could easily be confused as being from the Tennessee Secretary of State’s Office, particularly because the solicitations appear to be an invoice for payment and use a return address in the capital city of Nashville, Tennessee.

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Hargett says no to changing voter purge rules

Secretary of State Tre Hargett is rejecting calls by the Tennessee League of Women Voters and a New York law firm to change how the state purges inactive voters from voter registration lists in light of a U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in an Ohio case, reports the Times-Free Press.

In his letter Friday, Hargett, a Republican, said his office “has reviewed [the] letter alleging that Tennessee is in violation of Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993. We believe that Tennessee’s laws for removing voters are substantially different than the laws and directives at issue in Ohio.”

Hargett added: “Additionally, your letter was not received until after early voting had begun across the state, and changing the rules at this stage of the process would present a major disruption to elections in Tennessee.”

With Tennessee also falling under the 6th Circuit’s jurisdiction, League of Women Voters President Marian Ott and Stuart Naifeh, a senior counsel with the New York-based law firm Demos involved in the Ohio litigation, wrote letters to Hargett saying he should drop what they called Tennessee’s similar method of purging voters from registration lists.

Asked about Hargett’s decision, Ott said Friday afternoon, “[The] League of Women Voters of Tennessee is obviously disappointed in Secretary Hargett’s response. His response offers no information about why the facts in Tennessee are substantially different than in the Ohio case because they are not different — Tennessee has a purging process based on nonvoting.”

League seeks change in TN voter purging practices

Tennessee League of Women Voters and a public interest law firm are calling on Secretary of State Tre Hargett to change current state practice for purging voters from registration lists, reports the Times-Free Press. A three-judge panel of the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals last money ruled that a similar purging procedure used in Ohio violates the National Voter Registration Act of 1993

With Tennessee also falling under the 6th Circuit’s jurisdiction, League of Women Voters President Marian Ott and Stuart Naifeh, a senior counsel with a New York law firm involved in the Ohio litigation, say Hargett should drop Tennessee’s similar method of purging voters from registration lists.

“The League of Women Voters strongly supports efforts to enable all eligible Tennesseans to vote,” said League President Ott in a statement. “The law is the law, and Tennessee officials should follow the law and let eligible voters vote.  It’s just not right to block eligible citizens from voting.”

… In a letter to Hargett dated Thursday, Naifeh, the senior counsel with the Demos law firm, said Tennessee is “not in compliance with Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act.”

He noted Tennessee law describes a process in which voters who don’t vote in a period of “two consecutive November elections” are sent a forwardable confirmation notice. Voters who don’t respond to the notice or don’t update their registration or vote in the subsequent period “between the time the notice is sent and the second regular November election after the notice was sent” see their registrations purged, Naifeh wrote.

…”We urge you, as the State’s chief election official, to take immediate steps to bring the State into compliance with federal law by directing local election officials to cease and desist from cancelling any voter registration based on voter inactivity and by implementing a process through which the ballots of improperly cancelled voters can be counted,” Naifeh’s letter says.’

Hargett has not yet responded.

 

 

 

 

Trump: Voter fraud ‘very, very common;’ Hargett: Not in TN

With early voting set to begin Wednesday in Tennessee’s 95 counties, Secretary of State Tre Hargett and state Election Coordinator Mark Goins said  Monday they’ve see no evidence of the voter fraud that Donald Trump contends is common  and setting up a rigged election, reports the Times-Free Press.

Asked about Trump’s assertions that his national contest with Democrat Hillary Clinton is “fixed” or “rigged,” Hargett said, “I hesitate to call somebody irresponsible. But, what I will say is that anything that causes people to have less confidence in being able to go vote, I frown upon regardless of what party that comes from.”

Hargett said the only ones asking him questions about potential fraud have been news reporters following up on Trump’s assertions. That resulted in Monday’s news conference, he said.

At the same time, the TFP carries the latest AP story on Trump’s assertions. An excerpt:

Speaking at a rally Monday night in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Trump doubled down on his widely condemned attempts to undermine the election’s outcome, which are unprecedented in modern presidential politics.

“They even want to try to rig the election at the polling booths. And believe me, there’s a lot going on,” Trumptold a rowdy audience. “Do you ever hear these people? They say there’s nothing’s going on. People that have died 10 years ago are still voting. Illegal immigrants are voting. I mean, where are the street smarts of some of these politicians?”

“So many cities are corrupt,” he added, “and voter fraud is very, very common.”