Since the Tennessee Legislature has dealt with the Voter Confidence Act of 2010 by leaving its implementation to the discretion of the counties, I remembered what happened the last time Metropolitan Nashville/Davidson County took action on this issue.
The Help America Vote Act had been passed, and money was available to upgrade voting machines. I was part of Bernie Ellis’s Gathering to Save Our Democracy, advocating for voter verified paper ballots as the only way to insure a fair and trustworthy election. The group sent out emails on an important meeting of the Nashville Election Commission at 10:00 AM on a certain morning. Since the issue was so important, I took a hoarded day of my Paid Time Off.
Arriving at the Howard School headquarters, I was informed the meeting had been rescheduled to 2:00 PM that day, the change having been announced on the Election Commission website. (I was later to learn the state legislature is skilled at this particular tactic.) I returned at 2:00 PM, put two hours’ worth of quarters into the parking meter, and went to the auditorium where the meeting was scheduled. A few other hardy souls turned up. Shortly, a harassed employee arrived and told us the meeting had been moved to another location. We gamely followed to a medium-sized conference room, barely large enough to contain the number who crowded in. Many disabled people were present, since they wanted more user-friendly equipment.
The Election Commission was present, as was a lady from the Metro Legal Office. We listened to a vendor presentation, and representatives of the disabled presented their cases. The Commission appeared to understand our concerns and be willing to address them. Then a member of the Metro Budget Department came in from an adjoining crowded hallway. I have no idea who he was (I was a political novice.), but he carried the day against us.
Firstly, this man declared that the Federal money was coming to the Budget Office, which would therefore determine how to use it. Every objection was referred to and shot down by the lady from the Legal Office. The Budget Office proposed that a six member committee be formed to determine how to use the money, and the Election Commission could appoint a couple of its representatives. Once this committee met, no member could talk about the deliberations with anyone whatever. “The last thing we want is for these contractors to know what we’re looking for.” (I remember that statement because it countered logic.)
The Election Commission Chairman simply stared at the Metro Budget Office employee. “Why have we been having all these meetings, then?” he asked.
At that point, I left because my parking meter was nearly out of time. I realized then that Metro would have unverifiable, easily hacked machines for the foreseeable future. Don’t let this happen again.