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Tenn. sec. of state visits Farragut GOP Tenn

Purging voter rolls of those deceased, and tying that in with the necessity of passing a “voter photo I.D. law,” highlighted a speech in Farragut by Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett.

Indicating such proposed legislation “passed the [state] Senate and [was] up for consideration in a committee in the House” in early March, Hargett was featured speaker at Concord-Farragut Republican Club’s meeting at Seasons Café, Thursday, March 3.

That committee is chaired by state Rep. Ryan Haynes of Farragut (R-District 14), who said at the meeting he’s “co-sponsored” such legislation “in the past.”

With his office overseeing statewide elections in all 95 counties, Hargett explained what can, and has, happened without a voter photo I.D. law.

“As of right now, someone could take a deceased person’s name off those voter rolls, manufacture some type of fake I.D. — they do not have to have a picture on it, mind you — and walk in and vote with that person’s name if we’re not purging those deceased people off the voter rolls,” he said.

Passing a voter photo I.D. law “is so critical in my opinion,” Hargett added.

However, “In our first two years of office, we removed over an additional 13,000 deceased people from the voter rolls in the state of Tennessee,” Hargett said.

Concerning arguments that such a law would “disenfranchise” poor voters — supposedly much less able to get a voter photo I.D. — Hargett said the real question is, “What level of fraud are you willing to accept” without the I.D?

After the meeting, Haynes said he remains “a supporter of the bill,” adding chances “are very good” the bill would pass.

“This is something that’s been a position of a lot of conservatives for years, and it’s been knocked down many years. … I think a majority of the house Republican Caucus is supportive of that legislation as well.”

In addition, “The majority of our election commission supports it as well,” Haynes added.

Pointing out a key area of inefficiency within most counties, including Knox, Hargett said there are too many tiny precincts statewide, some with less than five voters.

However, those few precinct voters “go to that church, go to that school, and they don’t want to move,” Hargett said. “A lot of time that’s why people are reluctant to decrease the number of precincts.”

Saying statewide early voting started in 1996, the year he first ran for state legislature (serving five terms), Hargett said it wasn’t popular then.

“But now over 50 percent of the people voting are voting early,” he added.

Hargett also mentioned cracking down on “felons voting illegally,” and working with other states to reduce illegal interstate voting — voting for President of the United States in two or more states, for example.

Tennessee was “controversy-free” in 94 counties during November 2010 elections, Hargett said. Putnam County [Cookeville] was the lone exception.

Hargett said his office’s budget “is $2 million less than when I took office. The bottom line is we’re still able to accomplish the very same things we’ve been accomplishing. We’re just doing it in a smarter way.”

Hargett, 37th Secretary of State (office is appointed by the governor), outlined other duties.

Those include overseeing publishing and distribution of Tennessee Blue Book; overseeing state lottery; “housing” Tennessee State Library archives and Tennessee Electronic Library, and facilitating the public’s ability to go online and “research these charitable organizations and see how they’re spending their money.”

It was announced that early voting for Farragut town elections begins March 23.


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