Both supporters and opponents of Tennessee’s voter ID law are pointing to newly released statewide data to bolster their positions. Nearly four out of five provisional ballots cast in the Volunteer State last November were tossed out.
The Republican-backed voter ID law was passed in 2011. Supporters say it’s an effort to ensure voter integrity and prevent election fraud. Opponents say it’s an attempt to suppress voting among traditional Democratic constituencies, including the urban poor who sometimes don’t have a government-issued photo ID.
Under the Tennessee law, those who experience trouble at the polls on Election Day are allowed to cast a provisional ballot which will be counted later if election officials determine the person casting the ballot is a legitimate voter. According to the data released this week, a little over 1,600—or 23%--of the more than 7,000 provisional ballots cast in Tennessee last November were ultimately counted.
A Nashville civil rights lawyer told The Tennessean those numbers show some voters were disenfranchised.
Republican state Rep. Sara Beth Gregory has won a special election for a Senate seat from southern Kentucky, defeating Williamsburg teacher and Democrat Bill Conn by more than a 4-1 margin to replace former Sen. David Williams.
In unofficial returns from Tuesday's balloting, Gregory received 6,244 votes to 1,440 for Conn, who was making his first run for public office.
The heavily Republican 16th District includes Clinton, Cumberland, McCreary, Monroe, Wayne and Whitley counties, along the southern Kentucky border. Gregory, an attorney, was elected last year to represent the 52nd House District that covers McCreary and Wayne counties and part of Pulaski County and won a second term on Nov. 6.
Lieutenant Governor Jerry Abramson will not be a Democratic Senate candidate in 2014, taking on the nation's most powerful Republican, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. Abramson says having served about a quarter-century as Louisville Mayor before taking on his current post, he sees himself more as an executive, than a legislator.