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Haren should be a ‘write-in’ candidate

Eddie Haren should be a write-in candidate for Washington County Commissioner.
A mistake by Washington County Elections Administrator Connie Sinks may keep Haren off the ballot because his paperwork was filed two days late. The mistake, an honest one, occurred when Sinks misread the deadline to file as a write-in candidate.
She told Haren the date was June 18. In fact, the deadline was June 16.
Sinks’ reaction to Haren’s bid for an 8th District Commission seat was: “Oh my gosh, Eddie. I told you the wrong date.”
Tennessee’s election laws are complex. Candidates depend upon the Elections Administrator to keep them informed of the proper procedures and deadlines for running for office. Haren says he believes that Sinks made “a good, honest mistake.”
Sinks encouraged Haren to make a late filing so that the matter could be addressed by the Courts. Federal courts in the past have not hesitated to hear election appeals, witness the case in Florida that went to the United State Supreme Court and decided a presidential election.
The issue of Haren’s effort to be on the ballot likely will be held in Circuit Court in Washington County. He should receive an early hearing and as Haren told the Herald & Tribune: “I can’t imagine he won’t allow it (his write-in candidacy), seeing as it wasn’t my mistake.”
Two candidates have qualified for the two spots up for election in the 8th District. They are incumbents Ben Bowman and Everett Jarrett.
Allowing Haren to run for commissioner would give voters a choice in the District election.
As a valid write-in candidate, Haren’s name would not appear on the ballot. However, voters would be allowed to submit his name as a write-in, and if his appeal is granted, those votes would be counted.
In years past, there was no requirement for write-ins. Voters had the freedom to write in any name they chose. This produced write-ins for “Donald Duck” or “Elvis” and other individuals obviously not eligible to serve as a Washington County Commissioner.
The present requirement that “write-in” candidates qualify eliminates some of the silliness of the past. It should not, however, bar a candidate from a write-in campaign because of a mistake made by the Elections office.
Hopefully, a Court case would also determine if the Election Commission has the power to correct a mistake made by the Elections Administrator.
Meeting in June after the filing deadline had passed, the Election Commission unanimously passed a motion to not count any votes for Haren because he had filed his paperwork too late.
If the Commission is determined to have the authority to correct an “honest mistake” of their Administrator, a lot of time and effort could be saved in future situations regarding inadvertently missing a deadline.
As in all election cases, a quick court decision is needed to make certain voters know who the candidates will be in the August election. In fairness, Haren’s name should be among those running for Commissioner in the 8th District of Washington County.