Armed with what she claims is a case of numerous voting irregularities, Metro Council District 20 candidate Mary Carolyn Roberts is challenging the result of her election in hopes of triggering a runoff.
“I feel like we have a strong case,” Roberts said, adding she plans to officially file the challenge in Davidson County Chancery Court at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
The commission certified Metro’s Aug. 4 general election results last Friday. But Roberts has alleged some voters in the District 20 race claimed their business addresses as residencies, and didn’t actually live in the West Nashville-area district.
Roberts also said out-of-district prisoners who voted in District 20 shouldn’t have been able to do so. The prisoners originally registered in District 20, but have been serving time in Hickman County.
Moreover, she said some former District 20 residents who moved out of the district, voted in the District 20 election nonetheless.
The election commission has certified a victory for incumbent Councilman Buddy Baker, who bested Roberts by a 696-650 vote margin. A third candidate received 26 votes. Roberts believes she can make up enough votes, approximately 10, to reduce Baker’s 50 percent majority and spur a Sept. 15 runoff.
Davidson County Elections Administrator Albert Tieche said he didn’t want to comment on the challenge until he has time to analyze it.
Stephen Zralek, Baker’s legal counsel, said his client is "a lifelong public servant. He's a retired firefighter. He won the election by 46 votes."
"Ms. Roberts is seeking to overturn the election," Zralek added. "I've been involved in a number of election contests, and I can tell you that she has a significant uphill battle, given the wide margin of victory. The Tennessee Supreme Court has made it clear that elections generally should be upheld, that election laws should be construed in favor of the right to vote, and that courts should be very reluctant before taking the drastic step of declaring an election invalid."