Tieche Defends Citizenship-Challenge Training for Election

Nashville’s elections administrator says poll workers should be trained to handle citizenship challenges. Critics argue the training aims to exclude people who don’t read or speak much English, but can vote.

Training slide via Mary Mancini, Tennessee Citizen Action

Training slide via Mary Mancini, Tennessee Citizen Action

Registering to vote in Davidson County includes checking off a box to say you’re a U.S. citizen. Mary Mancini, with Tennessee Citizen Action, says that’s when questions over citizenship should be resolved – not right outside the voting booth.

But County Elections Administrator Albert Tieche argues poll workers should know the law if a voter’s citizenship is in question.

“So they need to know how to do that. I don’t want them sitting there going ‘What? A challenge? What is that?’ Now challenges are as rare as hen’s teeth. I’ve seen four in 10 years. We’ve had no challenges – zero – based on citizenship in the two years that I’ve been here.”

Training slide via Mary Mancini, Tennessee Citizen Action

Training slide via Mary Mancini, Tennessee Citizen Action

Tieche thinks criticism over the poll-worker training stems from frustration with a new law requiring voters to have a state ID. Some are hoping to overturn the law in court before next month’s election, but at least right now, Tieche says he has to follow the law.

Tenn. Code Ann. § 2-7-123 (2012)
2-7-123. Challenges to right to vote — Oath of challenged voter.

If any person’s right to vote is challenged by any other person present at the polling place, the judges shall present the challenge to the person and decide the challenge after administering the following oath to the challenged voter: “I swear (affirm) that I will give true answers to questions asked about my right to vote in the election I have applied to vote in.” A person who refuses to take the oath may not vote.

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