Something big is getting ready to happen at the Davidson County Election Commission. If what I have been told is correct, there is a move afoot to fire Albert Tiche. I have been hearing for weeks now that something big was about to happen at the Election Commission, but I did not know what. I am reporting this along with the caveat that this is the "word on the street." If anyone with more insight would like to share what you know, then please leave a comment or contact me.
One source told me that at the next meeting of the State Election Commission on March 21st that a list of 200 grievances will be presented to the board as grounds for firing Tiche. I don't know what is on that list but I have been told it is nitpicky stuff such as voters who had to wait too long in lines, and voting places that ran out of change of address forms and office policies that upset some employees and other such matters. No one was denied the right to vote and no voter fraud has been alleged.
Mark Goins the State Election Coordinator is reportedly supporting this effort while much of the grunt work of building the case against Albert is said to be coming from Mary Mancini. Mary Mancini is a left wing ideologue who heads Tennessee Citizen Action, a non-profit, community-based public interest and consumer advocacy organization. She at one time hosted a radio program on the now defunct independent left-wing Liberadio(!). She is 2006 graduate of the Nashville Peace and Justice Center’s Leadership Institute and has various other left-wing credentials. Apparently, Mancini is said to have the ear of Goins and has some influence.
As I understand it, the effort to dismiss Albert Tiche is being led by Republican Commissioner Patricia Heim and she is being joined in this effort by the two Democrats on the commission. Patricia Heim often sides with the Democrats on the Commission. In the 2012 August primary she led the effort opposing an early voting site in Bellevue when many Republicans thought an early voting site in Bellevue would have benefited our candidates. In 2011 she was supportive of the effort to have no early voting except for the single site at Howard School.
She just recently voted with the Democrats on another Election Commission issues. The commission voted 3-2 on Feb. 21 to ask the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security to review the citizenship status of recently registered voters who were born outside the United States. Many of these people were registered at the Department of Motor Vehicles at the time of getting their driver's license issued or renewed. One does not have to be citizen to get a driver's license. A permanent lawful resident can get a driver's license and will automatically be asked if they would like to register to vote even though they are not a US citizen and DMV does not verify citizenship. Patricia Heim voted against this proposal from Republican Commissioner Steve Abernathy.
The Davidson County Election Commission is governed by five commissioners appointed by the State Election Commission for a two year term. The State Election Commission gets their recommendation who to appoint from the local legislators representing that County. It is my understanding that Patricia Himes is an appointee of Speaker of the House Beth Harwell. Many see Heim as a turncoat and some wonder is she was a RINO all the time.
Albert Tiche is the first Republican ever in Davidson County to serve as the Davidson County Administrator of Elections. In November 2008, the Republicans gained a majority of legislative seats in the State Legislature and that meant Republicans would hold a majority on all county election commissions across the State. Where the Election Commissions had been three Democrats and two Republicans, they became three Republicans and two Democrats. When former Administrator of Elections Ray Barrett announced his retirement, the Davidson Election Commission sought applicants to fill the vacancy. Albert Tiche was chosen from the 55 people who submitted applications. Tiche worked at the University of Tennessee Center for Industrial Services, had worked as an election poll officer since 2003 and had trained others in the field and had written and copyrighted a manual to help poll workers know their tasks and responsibilities on Election Day. He took office in Nov. 2010.
The Election Administrator is appointed by the local Election Commission for a four-year term. He keeps voter registration records, maintains voting histories for each voter, provides information concerning voter registration, absentee voting, elections, campaigns, and campaign financial disclosures. He is responsible for organizing all matters related to local elections in the county, including tallying the votes.
Despite having a Republican Election Administrator and three of five seats on the Election Commission being Republican, rank and file of employees of the Commission are almost all Democrats. Tiche inherited a staff hired by the previous Democrat Election Administrators. Even today the attorney for the Davidson County Election is from Metro Legal Services. Since Davidson County has never had a Republican Mayor, all of our agencies are controlled by Democrats so the people who work for Tiche and the people Tiche must work with are often loyal Democrats. In addition to partisan loyalty, there is a certain resentment and resistance anytime a new chief executive comes in and starts making changes.
Tiche has had a challenging job to do at the election commission. Since he has been hired we have had a legislative and county redistricting, a Lakewood election that was won by only 11 votes, a City Council race that was won by only fifty-some votes, and in 2012 Jim Gotto lost a House seat election by only 91 votes. Anytime an election is close there will be intense scrutiny given to the process. In addition, the Commission has had to learn new technology and train people in its use and comply with the new picture Id law. All of this occurred within two years. With these challenges, I think Albert Tiche has done an admirable job.
This turn of events is unfortunate. The State Administrator of Elections needs to quit listening to liberal Democrats like Mary Mancini and let Albert do his job. Also, when Patricia Heim's term expires, she should not be reappointed. Beth Harwell needs to appoint someone else to fill that position.