Tre Hargett is lucky it was Judge Perkins and not Judge Judy.
All good news from a ruling last week that rejected a plea for the court to step in and “compel” Secretary of State Tre Hargett and State Election Coordinator Mark Goins to implement the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act, a.k.a. the paper ballot bill (which they have been fighting hard against, for some reason).
While the court denied the plaintiffsâ€™ motion for a preliminary injunction, it did rule that, contrary to what Mr. Hargett has been saying, the Tennessee Voter Confidence ACT does NOT require 2005-only standards for machines.
In addition, the court said that the law must be implemented by November 2010 and that the Secretary of State is under a legal obligation to do so tout de suite.
Even more good news is all the attention this case – which is ultimately about secure and accurate elections for all Tennesseans – is receiving from the media.
Nationally, the preeminent election integrity activist and blogger, Brad Friedman – who, by the way, has been with Tennesseans fighting for secure and accurate elections from the beginning – wrote up a thorough synopsis:
The ruling appears to be a victory for the plaintiffs nonetheless, as Perkins ruled the state’s argument/delay tactic that there were no currently certified voting machines that meet the law’s mandate for systems that are federally certified to 2005 standards. Trouble is, the law contains no such mandate. The judge determined that the law does not require new systems meet 2005 standards — there are currently none certified to that standard — and that systems meeting the 2002 federal standards are perfectly legal.
The Voting News blog also covered the hearing.
WSMV-TN Channel 4 in Nashville taped the entire hearing and posted a story on its website and Jackson Baker wrote about it for the Memphis Flyer. Baker’s piece artfully acknowledges what those of us fighting for secure and accurate elections in Tennessee understand as the next threat – delaying implementation of the TVCA as Republican legislative priority (as stated by Lt. Governor and gubernatorial candidate, Ron Ramsey):
While Hargettâ€™s statement would appear to be guardedly compliant with the Act and Thursdayâ€™s ruling, the references to â€œcurrent lawâ€ and to the prospect that â€œthis debate will continue in the next legislative sessionâ€ would seem to validate the fears of TVCA supporters that Hargett and Goins mean to postpone any effort to implement the TVCA in the hope that the General Assembly, meeting in January, will amend the Act, negate it, or postpone the date of its implementation.
Tom Humphrey at the Knoxville News Sentinel has both the news and a follow up from a statement by Dick Williams of plaintiff Common Cause:
Optical scan voting systems are now the most widely used voting method in the nation, and are used by over 60% of the nation’s voters.
“Nothing is more important than having verifiable ballots,” said Dick Williams of Common Cause Tennessee. “There is no good reason for running the 2010 elections with systems that are vulnerable to error and don’t allow a recount or an audit,” Williams said.
Following the hearing, Attorney Gerard Stranch for the Plaintiffs said: “The ball is now in the defendants court, hopefully, they will have greater respect for the will of the Court than they did for the will of the legislature.”
Stranch is right, the ball is in the Secretary of State’s court. But don’t expect him to quietly follow along with the will of the people. Rather, he will drag his feet until January counting on Ramsey and the Republican-led legislature to repeal the act.
Last month Jeff Woods at the Scene nailed down the most obvious follow-up question to ask of Mr. Hargett and Mr. Goins, “Why else…would Republicans fight so hard to stop an obvious good-government election reform that only a year ago enjoyed broad bipartisan support?”
In light of recent events, and as they will undoubtedly continue to drag their feet, the answer is more important and relevant now than ever before.