Election commission goes home with no result in Yarbro, Henry race

Friday, August 6, 2010 at 11:44am

4:40 p.m.: The staff of the Davidson County Election Commission left the office at 4:30 p.m. without divulging the status of the two provisional ballots in the race between incumbent state Sen. Douglas Henry and political newcomer Jeff Yarbro.

Both are vying for the Democratic nomination in November’s general election.

Election officials said they were waiting for the Tennessee Secretary of State, the government body that will determine the legitimacy of the two ballots.

Earlier in the day, some had speculated that one ballot had been confirmed but not the second.

According to Election Commission Chair Lynn Greer, the legitimacy of the ballots won’t be verified until Monday at the earliest.

1:20 p.m.: In an interview with The City Paper at Sylvan Park Restaurant this afternoon, Jeff Yarbro indicated he might ask for a recount in his primary election battle with incumbent state Sen. Douglas Henry. The two are currently separated by two votes, with a mere two provisional ballots left to be counted this afternoon. 

"I'm not ruling anything in or out," Yarbro said when asked whether he would request a recount or challenge the results of the election. 

12:50 p.m.: Jeff Yarbro's attorney released a statement this morning suggesting the campaign is aware of irregularities in the counting of absentee ballots in the state Senate District 21 primary. 

From Yarbro attorney Wally Dietz: 

"In an election this close, where the margin is approximately one-hundredth of 1 percent, it will take some time to determine who won the most votes. The candidates, the Election Commission, and the voters deserve to have confidence in the final tally. 

"There are several outstanding questions that will need to be addressed in the coming days. First, there are a couple of provisional ballots that were cast in this race that still need to be processed. Second, there are a few issues surrounding the count of absentee ballots. Due to an apparent power failure, the absentee ballots were not counted by machine as is the standard practice but were hand counted. The original count of the absentee ballots that was provided to the campaign was 128 votes for Sen. Henry and 82 votes for Yarbro, which would have resulted in an 18-vote margin in Yarbro's favor in the unofficial count. Subsequently, the count of absentee ballots that was delivered to the Election Commission was 148 votes for Sen. Henry and 82 votes for Yarbro, which resulted in a 2-vote margin in Sen. Henry's favor in the unofficial count.

"At this point, we have a question of math, not politics. We look forward to the canvass of the returns that begins on Monday and to working with the Election Commission and the Henry Campaign to ensure that Nashville citizens have the most accurate count of the ballots possible.

10:45 a.m.: Only two provisional ballots were cast in the tight state Senate District 21 Democratic primary between incumbent Sen. Douglas Henry and 33-year-old attorney Jeff Yarbro, meaning the final tally could produce an exact tie or as much as a four-vote victory for Henry. 

On Friday morning, Davidson County Election Commission officials sifted through provisional ballots cast in all 172 county precincts. According to chairman Lynn Greer, the two ballots are being taken to the downtown offices of the commission this afternoon to be verified. 

In one of the closest races in recent memory, Henry ended Thursday night ahead by a mere two votes, with only the remaining provisional ballots to be counted.  

It was not clear whether the ballots were cast in the Democratic or Republican primary. One is from Metro Council District 18's Belmont neighborhood, and the other is from Forest Hills, which is in council district 34. 

Both ballots would have to be verified and favor Yarbro for the upstart to tie long-time incumbent Henry.

It remains unclear whether Yarbro will request a recount. Such a request would go before the election commission. 

Yarbro could also challenge the result — essentially suggesting something went awry in the voting. A challenge would go before the state Democratic Party's executive committee. 

14 Comments on this post:

By: PKVol on 8/6/10 at 10:25

Provisional ballots are rarely allowed as the only way to cast one is in a "all other means of verifying a voter as valid were exhausted, but nothing disqualified the voter from casting a ballot" situation. If they are allowed, these two voters know they are one of the two most important votes in Senate Distric 21 history!

By: xhexx on 8/6/10 at 10:54

Why is it assumed the two provisional ballots would favor Yarbro? Is the fix in?

What happens if the race ends in a tie?

By: TakePrideInNash on 8/6/10 at 11:15

Fix? LOL!

By: Blanketnazi2 on 8/6/10 at 11:37

fix? god.......i'm a dem and i favor Yarbro but if Henry gets it, i'm still fine with that.

By: cmarcus45 on 8/6/10 at 12:07

"Yarbro attorney suggests irregularities in vote count" . . . of course he does.

By: judyboodo@yahoo.com on 8/6/10 at 12:14

Somebody call Al Gore's campaign manager and find out what he did, so as not to do it!
Bush must be involved somehow

By: PKVol on 8/6/10 at 12:17

Has there ever been a close election in which the party who lost didn't claim 'irregularities' in the process somewhere?

I'm all for a recount and one shouldn't even need to be requested in a race this close, but if the recount yields the same results, accept it and move on. Try again in 4 years and spend that time wondering what you did that might have offended a voter to vote against you that created your situation. Learn, move on and become better than you are.

By: Loretta Bridge on 8/6/10 at 12:28

The laws and procedures for ANY AND ALL elections should be clear and upheld.
A vote is a vote is a vote. Year after year in all elections state wide and nationally there is some kind of issue. Do we need to just go back to paper ballots that we put an X
beside the person we want to vote for? Since our modern day officials can't seem to count and they rely on machines too much then maybe we need to return to the
old system. All I want is that our elections be fair and HONEST regardless to who wins.

By: govskeptic on 8/6/10 at 1:06

It's the real world at work! Even in our "Nanny State" there will always be problems crop up in elections. Accept that as a
continuing fact and move on with life.

By: wayitis on 8/6/10 at 1:07

Once again the ole saying comes into play. every votes counts.... just ask Al franken.

By: stlgtr55@yahoo.com on 8/6/10 at 1:46

How many people mistakenly voted for Pat Buchanan?

By: morpheus120 on 8/6/10 at 2:06

The problem is that there is nothing to recount. The results will be the same every time from the computer cards that were in the machines. There is no paper trail except for those few absentee ballots.

By: rbull on 8/7/10 at 11:00

Why are we wasteing tax payer money to recount or what ever is being done. Senator Henry won by two votes and go ahead and declare him the winner, which he was and seat him in the Senate and wait four more years and challenge him again.

By: tomba1 on 8/8/10 at 9:34

Late on election nite at around 10 PM or so, one of the local tv stations reported that Henry was declaring victory after sending one of his campaign aides downtown to the Commission to find out the results. Now if that is true, that by itself seems a little irregular to me and did so when I heard it. How can the Commission allow access by a candidate at such a critical moment in the results determination. And if a candidate has such access, imagine what other mischief they could do. I wonder how many absentee ballots might have been left in just the right spot to be counted; after all, at that point they would have known how many they needed and the right wink and nod can get you a long way in the good-ole-boy network.