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VOL. 44 | NO. 44 | Friday, October 30, 2020

Tennessee Dems lawsuit seeks release of absentee ballot info

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NASHVILLE (AP) — A lawsuit has been filed against Tennessee elections officials seeking the release of absentee ballot information.

The lawsuit was filed Sunday in Davidson County Chancery Court by the state Democratic Party and the campaign of Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Marquita Bradshaw. It accuses elections officials of refusing to release the ballot information as required by state law.

Secretary of State Tre Hargett, a Republican, and elections coordinator Mark Goings are named as defendants.

"At best the filing is inaccurate and at worst misinformation," said Julie Bruck, a spokeswoman for Hargett. "With less than 48 hours before the polls open across Tennessee, this filing further distracts county elections officials from their critical work of conducting this election safely, responsibly, and sensibly."

According to the lawsuit, the secretary of state's office is required by Tennessee open records law to release if requested a list of voters who have not returned absentee ballots by the end of early voting, which was Saturday. The secretary of state's office did not comply with the request, even instructing all 95 county election offices to withhold any information.

"This request is an essential, routine tool to allow campaigns to encourage voter participation by making voters aware of the status of their absentee ballot and their voting rights," the state Democratic Party said in a statement.

Bradshaw faces Republican Bill Hagerty in Tuesday's election for the seat left open by retiring Republican Lamar Alexander.

"Transparent administration of the electoral process is central to our democracy," said Ken Taylor, Bradshaw's campaign manager. "The statute is clear. Voters have a right to know if their vote was received and counted."

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