Poll Watchers Want Explanation for Long Lines, High Provisional Count

Members of Tennessee Citizen Action and the League of Women Voters are calling for an Election Day audit in Nashville. Photo credit Blake Farmer/WPLN

Members of Tennessee Citizen Action and the League of Women Voters are calling for an Election Day audit in Nashville. Photo credit Blake Farmer/WPLN

Poll watchers in Nashville say they were surprised that the state’s voter ID law was almost a non-issue on Election Day. But they are asking for an explanation for why lines were so long.

Turnout statewide and in Davidson County was actually down from four years ago.

Still, Mary Mancini of Tennessee Citizen Action says the queue turned some voters away.

“We heard from a lot of the poll watchers here who saw people look at a long line snaking out of their polling location and leaving, not even bothering to park their car and go in.”

Tennessee didn’t see lines nearly as long as those in swing states like Florida. But Mancini says there’s “no excuse” for waits of more than an hour. She suggests more poll workers were needed. At least one of the organization’s poll watchers was asked to become poll workers at an overwhelmed precinct in North Nashville.

While voter turnout was down last week compared to 2008, the number of provisional votes spiked by several hundred in Davidson County.

At one polling location in North Nashville, all ten of its provisional ballots had been used by lunchtime. The Davidson County Election Commission was called to resupply.

Larry Sneed – who was watching the polls for Tennessee Citizen Action – says two more paper ballots were delivered.

“At 12:30, we had two ballots, eight people waiting to vote with two ballots.”

Sneed says election officials should have known they would need more provisional ballots following the recent once-a-decade redistricting. That meant many people had been assigned to new precincts.

Election Administrator Albert Tieche says his office is just beginning to investigate why more than 900 provisional ballots were needed.

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