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Election Commission certifies May 6 results

Election results from the May 6 Republican Primary have been certified, but it remains to be seen whether any candidates will challenge the numbers or how a new dynamic will affect the county commission.
During a May 22 meeting, Election Commission members gave unanimous approval to the breakdown of 13,099 votes from the Primary, which include 6,210 absentee and early votes, and 6,889 votes cast on Election Day.
The results included one provisional vote in favor of Craig Ford, which narrowed Sheriff Ed Graybeal’s victory to a 12-vote margin. Votes are considered provisional if there is a question about the eligibility of the individual who cast it.
According to Administrator of Elections Maybell Stewart, provisional votes aren’t counted on Election Day, and the Election Commission has four days afterward to confirm the voter’s registration.
Stewart said two provisional votes were cast during the Primary. One was from an inactive voter who had not made an attempt to register, so the vote could not be counted. The second voter was confirmed as attempting to register by the Tennessee Department of Safety.
“We have checked, double-checked and triple-checked the numbers,” Stewart said. “Everything balanced.”
Chair Janet Willis thanked the Republican nominees in attendance, which included Graybeal, current 6th District Commissioner Joe Grandy; Trustee Nominee Monty Treadway; and 8th District Commissioner Nominee Matthew Morris.
“This is a serious business, and we take it seriously and do everything we can to be aboveboard,” Willis said. “We appreciate your effort to run for public office.”
Candidates wanting to contest their races have five days to submit a letter to the Tennessee Republican Party. According to Deputy Executive Director Michael Sullivan, the letter must explain the grounds for the challenge. “A copy of the letter also must go to the opponent who would be adversely affected,” he said.
While the state law doesn’t specify, Sullivan said his office operates on the precedent of five consecutive days following the certification, which would include the weekend and holiday. The Republican Party Executive Committee would make the decision of whether to grant the request, he said, and a recount would be conducted by the Washington County Election Commission.
Sullivan said the Executive Committee would then have the choice to accept the election results or select a different nominee.
Regardless of challenges in the Primary, Grandy is already working to ensure all the Micro Vote-related equipment is programmed correctly for the Aug. 7 County General Election.
An error in the list of candidates for the 6th District that went uncorrected in the machine used in the Election Commission office to read the tally cards brought in from the precincts on May 6 led to incorrect totals on the website postings that had to be brought to the attention of election officials by Grandy.
In a joint conversation the week after the Primary with Tennessee’s Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins and Secretary of State Tre Hargett, Grandy asked what Micro Vote will do to help local officials ensure the accuracy of the elections.
“If this machine was corrected, how do we check it, I asked, and they didn’t know,” Grandy remembers. “I said we need to know.” At the end of last week, Grandy was still awaiting their response.
Commission Chair Greg Matherly said he is confident the election numbers are correct, but he can’t predict their results on the county commission during the next few months.
“We’re treading on some new ground,” he said late last week. “One of the dynamics has changed.”
Matherly said this is the first time he remembers such a large number of incumbents running in the Republican Primary since he became a commissioner in 1998. “Most ran as independents in August, we had one meeting and the new commission took over in September.”
The impact from so many current commissioners voted out during the May 6 election is a lame-duck period of four months rather than one. “I don’t have anything to compare it to because I’ve never experienced it, and surely not as chairman,” Matherly said. “We have a lot to do in the next few months, there is a lot to be addressed.”
Matherly said he is maintaining a positive outlook. “There are wins and losses in politics, and how you accept the losses can chart your future success,” he said. “I’m encouraged everyone will handle themselves professionally. We’re all still working for the good of Washington County.”