Rutherford County Election Observations

Aug 02, 2018 at 11:35 pm by bryan

WGNS' Bart Walker commented, "From covering elections here in Rutherford County for almost 35-years, there were several exciting incidents in this particular race."

Observations from Bart


Through the decades I have decided to be at the Rutherford County Election Commission Office, because that is the heart of where the results are being tabulated. It was "THE PLACE" in years past when a person would write the results on a giant chalk board and WGNS would read them over the radio. That was the case with WGNS going back 70 plus years.

In recent years, the attendance at the Rutherford County Election Commission has dwindled to a handful, and the excitement had fallen proportionately. When I arrived tonight (8/2/2018), the lobby was packed wall to wall. The place was abuzz with excitement. It felt as if we had gone through a time-warp and were back in the earlier years.

This year Rutherford County is the only county in Tennessee participating in a pilot program that enables voters to use any of the VOTE CENTERS in the county for either early voting or on election day. First, that makes it easy on all residents.

And for concerned taxpayers, this new pilot program is a more frugal way to spend the taxes that you and I put into the system. Rutherford County has 48 precincts, and in the past some of these voting locations were just a stones throw apart and some would have extremely small number of voters. That was not cost effective.

The pilot program reduces the number to 28 Vote Centers across the county. They're not precincts, and all registered voters can use whichever facility is closest to them during either early voting or on election day. It has cut the overhead almost in half, and that's being good stewards of public funds.

Yes, there were surprises tonight, but the public has spoken. The great news is that 42,876 voters participated in the total race, and 20,028 cast their vote on election day (8/2/2018).

One of the back and forth races of the day was the District 49 Tennessee House of Representatives race. Incumbent Mike Sparks defeated Tim Morrell in the Republican Primary by 95 votes. At the end, Election Administrator Alan Farley remended me, "That does not include the provisional vote, but I don't think it will change Sparks' 95 vote edge."

When asked what the PROVISIONAL VOTE was, he replied, "Some people showed-up and did not have a photo ID while others came to vote and their name could not be found in the system, rather than not allow them to vote--we let them cast a ballot, but put those votes in a category called PROVISIONAL. That number has not been counted. It won't be counted until we can investigate their names and addresses and determine if they are actually registered to vote here."

In reality, when you look at the difference of total votes compared to the total number of voters, the difference is 12 voters. It is my guess, and that's exactly what it is--a guess--that is the PROVISIONAL number.

On another topic: while we're observing, too much of anything has the potential of creating burnout. Tennessee's state representatives are re-elected every two-years. You wrap-up one race, and blink twice--it's election time again. Most other positions are on 4-year terms. Perhaps this is an area that might be studied in the future. And since WGNS works to be "interactive", why don't you respond to this idea. Put your comment below or e-mail is to

In conclusion, I want to THANK every candidate. Whether you won or lost. You had ideas that you felt would make our community better, and you were brave enough to put your "name on the line" for your convictions. That is very honorable and certainly what America is all about. THANK YOU to all of the candidates for standing up for your convictions.

Our hats are also off to Election Administrator Alan Farley and his staff along with Chair Ransom Jones and the Rutherford County Election Commission members for the great job with this pilot program. To say you have a "well oiled system that is running smoothly" is putting it mildly. THANK YOU!

Those are our observations, now check the rest of WGNS' news for the statistics.

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