The city of Brentwood library should be forced to accommodate the Williamson County Election Commission as an early voting polling place, according to a Tennessee Court of Appeals ruling issued on Friday.
The Brentwood library refused an election commission request to hold early voting during the Republican primary in 2012, citing interference with previously scheduled community group events. The Williamson County Election Commission sued the city of Brentwood last year to clarify the issue. Brentwood officials called the election commission lawsuit “a heavy-handed abuse of power.”
Last year, the Williamson County Chancery Court granted a summary judgment filed by Brentwood, ruling that state law “obligates the Commission to reasonably negotiate with local governments (or the controlling authority) whose facilities the Election Commission seeks to use.” The chancery court also ruled that Brentwood did not abuse its discretion when it determined the library was not a “practicable location” for early voting.
But the appeals court disagreed in its opinion. Rather, it ruled that state law clearly outlines that the commission is responsible for identifying suitable polling places and that “the authority which has control of the building ... shall make available the necessary space for the purpose of holding elections ... without charge.”
The appeals court reversed the summary judgment and remanded the case back to Williamson County Chancery Court for further proceedings.
|Williamson Co Elect Commission Appeals Court opinion.pdf||203.28 KB|