State Responds To Allegations Made Against The Hamilton County Election Commission

In late September, Tennessee State Representative Yusuf Hakeem (D) requested an investigation into the Hamilton County Election Commission in a letter to Secretary of State, Tre Hargett (R).

In the letter to the Secretary of State, Hakeem stated that voters have contacted him with a “laundry list of concerns” accusing the Election Commission of practices leading to voter suppression.

Please see our previous article concerning Hakeem’s request here:

On September 25th, Hakeem held a live streaming press conference going into further detail regarding the allegations.

Please see our previous article covering his conference here:

On September 30, the response to Hakeem’s letter was made public.

The letter in response came from Mark Goins, Tennessee State Coordinator of Elections.

The letter opened with an apology from Goins to Hakeem for not responding to his letter prior to Hakeem’s press conference citing that he “did not have enough time”.

In Hakeem’s letter to the Secretary of State, he alleged that the “Hamilton County Election Commission is engaging in practices causing voter suppression in the County.”

Goins replied, “Although you (Hakeem) mentioned there was a laundry list of concerns that had been expressed to you, no laundry list was provided. Specifically, your letter did not provide any evidence regarding the broad allegation of voter suppression.”

Goins requested specific evidence that the Division of Elections could research.

Goins pointed out that Hakeem assists in appointing members to the Hamilton County Election commission and stated, “We have not received any complaints from the members you helped get appointed or any other members of the Hamilton County Election Commission. Furthermore, this office has not received any allegations from voters suggesting their right to vote has been violated by actions of the HCEC. “

Names and contact information for voters who had contacted Hakeem with allegations was then requested by Goins.

In his letter, Hakeem also alleged that the Hamilton County Election Commission has engaged in “discriminatory hiring practices of both permanent and part-time workers, as well as, in the office and at the precinct level.”

Goin related in response that, “There are 37 Republican officers of election, 33 Democratic officers of election, and two nonpartisan officers of elections. This political party breakdown in the leadership position of Hamilton County precincts reflects almost equal representation of both statewide political parties in polling places”.

According to Goins, statewide, the average poll official makeup is 50 percent Republican, 44 percent Democratic, and 6 percent nonpartisan.

Goin wrote to Hakeem that any support he (Hakeem) can give the Hamilton County Election Commission in ongoing efforts to recruit reliable and capable poll officials would be greatly appreciated.

Hakeem also raised concerns about insufficient funding allocated to the Hamilton County Election Commission in his letter.

Goins relayed in response that, “Neither Republican, nor Democrat election commission members have voiced concerns about the financial support they receive from the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners. Instead, it is my understanding the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners has been a willing partner in ensuring adequate funding for the HCEC.”

“As you are also aware, the state has provided additional grant funding to HCEC for this election,” Goins stated.

In closing, Goins wrote, “Our office takes any allegations of voter suppression or voter fraud very seriously, and in our ongoing efforts to ensure confidence in Tennessee’s elections, we will follow through in reviewing any specific allegation we receive. Until such time that I receive evidence you referenced in your letter, I have no reason to question my confidence in the Hamilton County Election Commission’s ability to ensure a free and fair election.”

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