|Heads have now rolled in response to the controversy surrounding the Rutherford County Election Commission’s violation of state law in the early voting period leading up to the Aug. 5 State and Federal Primary and County General Election.
On Monday night, the election commission fired Elections Administrator Hooper Penuel at its meeting, where it also certified the results of the controversial election.
The issue was brought up under other business and passed 3-2 on a strict party line vote with Republicans voting for the measure and Democrats voting against. No interim director has been appointed.
In the early voting period of the Aug. 5 election, the commission failed to open the required three Saturdays leading up to the August election. The commission failed to open July 17 and was only open two of the required Saturdays.
At an earlier meeting, Election Commission Chairman Tom Walker said voters were given a record number of hours to vote early across the county.
Rutherford County voters had 547 total hours to cast early ballots, compared to around 100 hours in most other Middle Tennessee counties. Wilson County came closest with 360 hours and Cannon County only offered 37 hours of early voting.
Walker said the election commission has made access to early voting a top priority over the past few years.
The mistake leaves the election, which had some very close and highly contested races, open to being contested, either by candidates or voters. For voters to contest the election, they must sign an affidavit swearing there was no other opportunity for them to vote other than Saturday, July 17.
For candidates, rumors are swirling about who will contest the election. They have five days after the election results are certified to file a case with chancery court.
Michelle Willard can be contacted at 615-869-0816 or firstname.lastname@example.org.