Only two county provisional ballots will count in DesJarlais-Tracy race

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Rutherford County totaled eight provisional ballots on Election Day last week, but only two of them will be counted as state Sen. Jim Tracy scraps to overcome a 35-vote advantage held by Congressman Scott DesJarlais in the Republican primary.

Rutherford County interim Administrator of Elections Rhonda McFerrin said the two ballots will be added to election returns at 11 a.m. Wednesday as the Election Office wraps up the final count on the county general and state and federal primaries.

One of five provisional ballots cast for voter photo ID purposes will be counted along with one of three cast for registration reasons, McFerrin said. Voters who vote provisionally for photo ID reasons are given five business days to return to the election office with a proper ID.

For those who cast provisional ballots for registration reasons, the election office must check to see if they are registered properly in the district where they live.

Rutherford County is the 4th District’s largest county of 16, holding 37 percent of the vote. Thus, Tracy will have a difficult time overcoming DesJarlais’ lead.

Tracy’s campaign said there were 105 provisions ballots cast last Thursday, while according to the Wall Street Journal article, DesJarlais’ staff totaled 98.

Not all of those will go toward the final vote count. Just as Rutherford County is dropping 75 percent of provisional ballots, Marshall County is eliminating more than half of its, according to a Wall Street Journal article.

It reported that of 31 provisional ballots cast in Marshall County, only 13 provided the proper photo ID to be counted in the final vote.

The Rutherford County Election Commission is set to certify election results in a meeting set for Monday at 4:30 p.m. An Aug. 25 deadline is set for all counties to turn in their certified results, though the 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.

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