A higher-than-normal number of provisional ballots has delayed certification of Rutherford County’s Nov. 3 election by a week, affecting the swearing-in of La Vergne and Eagleville candidates, officials said.
“We will make sure every vote is counted,” said Alan Farley, election administrator. “Until we certify, no one has been elected yet.”
The Rutherford County Election Commission had been scheduled to certify results tonight, Farley said. Now, the certification meeting is set for 5 p.m. Monday, Nov. 23.
The election commission received 801 provisional ballots in this election, versus 692 in the November 2016 election, Farley said, for an increase of 15.75 percent.
A total of 144,401 cast ballots in this election, or 73.79 percent of registered voters, the election commission previously said.
La Vergne had been scheduled to swear three aldermen in just before its meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 17: Graeme Coates, Steve Noe and Dennis R. Waldron. Incumbent Calvin B. Jones lost the election.
La Vergne is now considering administering the oath on Dec. 3, Mayor Jason Cole said. Jones may possibly serve until then, he said.
Eagleville had planned to swear in Ryan Edwards and Chris Hendrix to the city council no later than Thursday, Nov. 19. However, Eagleville is now looking at options, including administering the oath as soon as certification takes place, said City Administrator Hellyn Riggins.
Smyrna had previously said their council would swear in candidates on Dec. 8 around 4:30 p.m., just before a council meeting. Spokeswoman Kathy Ferrell said that is still the plan. They will swear in Tim Morrell, Racquel Peebles and Steve Sullivan.
One reason some people would vote with a provisional ballot is if they registered through a state agency, such as the Department of Safety, and that agency did not send their information to the Rutherford County Election Commission in a timely manner, Farley said. There are about seven state agencies that facilitate voter registration, and with a heavy turnout statewide, that could be a factor. Lack of photo ID on voting day is another issue.
Monday, Nov. 23 is the state’s deadline for certification, Farley said. State law sets the deadline on the third Monday after the election. The commission normally handles certification the second Monday.
Farley said there will not have been a close enough margin in any of the local races to affect the outcome.
Out of the 692 who voted provisional in 2016, only 186 ballots were eventually counted. In many cases where lack of photo ID is the problem, the voter may come back in a certain time frame later with the identification.
Farley suggests that people who register to vote in a voter drive or through a state agency contact his office if they do not receive a voter card in the mail. People who register to vote online will receive a confirmation number to tell them they successfully registered.