With only five outstanding provisional ballots in the 4th Congressional District, Congressman Scott DesJarlais maintains a 35-vote lead today over state Sen. Jim Tracy, according to campaign observers.
With representatives from the Tracy and DesJarlais campaigns looking on today, Rutherford County Election Office officials counted Rutherford’s only provisional ballot out of eight cast Aug. 7. In 4th Congressional District voting, it went to little-known candidate David R. Tate, instead of the two frontrunners.
Afterward, a DesJarlais representative continued to claim victory after both candidates did in the hours after last Thursday’s election.
“We believe it’s statistically impossible for Mr. Tracy to close the gap once the provisional ballots are finalized,” DesJarlais spokesman Robert Jameson said. “We believe Mr. Tracy should concede for the good of voters and the good of the Tennessee Republican Party.”
Observers from both campaigns said the handful of outstanding provisional ballots remain to be counted from Warren, Sequatchie and Grundy counties.
Tracy’s campaign refused to concede and kept the statement it has made the last few days.
“There are still votes to be counted in the 4th District Republican primary and each county must go through their certification process. Because this race is so close, we are going to continue to follow through the certification process in place. Thank you to all of our volunteers and supporters for their continued support,” the Tracy campaign stated.
Provisional ballots are cast primarily for two reasons, those in which voters fail to show proper photo ID on Election Day, and situations in which voters may not be registered properly in the district where they live. They can cast provisional ballots and return in five business days to show a proper photo ID, and in other cases, the election office must check to see if they are registered properly.
The Rutherford County Election Commission is set to certify election results in a meeting scheduled Monday at 4:30 p.m. An Aug. 25 deadline is set for all counties to turn in their certified results, though the state Division of Elections is encouraging counties to expedite the matter.
At that point, candidates would have five days to challenge the outcome.
Any contesting of the election would then go to the governing party, in this case the State Republican Primary Board, according to Tennessee Republican Party Chairman Chris Devaney.
“If an election contest is received, the Primary Board would consider all arguments regarding a contest in a just and fair manner. The State Republican Party is neutral in all primaries and cannot speculate on any potential election contest,” Devaney said Monday.
Tennessee Code Annotated 2-17-104 states, “The state primary board shall hear and determine the contest and make the disposition of the contest which justice and fairness require, including setting aside the election if necessary.”
Despite that quirk in the primary election law, DesJarlais’ campaign said it is “confident that the person with the most votes will prevail.”
The Secretary of State’s unofficial results Friday morning showed DesJarlais, a South Pittsburg physician, capturing 34,787 votes to Tracy’s 34,752, a 35-vote margin that still stands after most provisional ballots are counted.