Davidson County’s elections administrator fired a Super Tuesday poll worker after the worker misdirected a voter who lacked a photo ID on the proper way to cast a provisional ballot, preventing the person from voting.
“It’s very disappointing,” said Al Wilkinson, a consistent voter for nearly three decades, who hoped to weigh in on a competitive Republican presidential primary and a field of GOP delegates. “I take the right to vote seriously.”
Wilkinson, a 45-year-old landscape architect, said he showed up on Election Day, March 6, at his assigned polling location, the Northside Church of Christ on Old Hickory Boulevard. He had forgotten his wallet, however, which contained his driver’s license.
“I was in a hurry,” Wilkinson said.
According to Wilkinson, the poll worker advised him to go to the Davidson County Election Commission office on Second Avenue the next day where he could show his ID and cast a ballot there.
But that wasn’t the correct protocol.
Under Tennessee’s new photo ID voting law, voters lacking a proper ID are to first vote provisional paper ballots. They then have two business days after the election to go to the election office to present a valid photo ID.
Failing to cast a provisional ballot, Wilkinson was unable to vote.
Albert Tieche, the county’s elections administrator, said he dismissed the poll worker the day after the election. “That officer doesn’t need to work again,” he said.
In a second voter ID incident, Tieche said a poll worker mistakenly had an elderly voter who lacked a photo ID vote on a machine instead of cast provisional paper ballot.
“He should have voted a paper provisional ballot, which would have been counted by the provisional ballot counting board,” Tieche said.
The Davidson County Election Commission certified March 6 election results on Wednesday.
Tieche pointed out that out of approximately 53,000 Davidson County voters who participated in the March 6 election –– voting in either the Democratic and Republican primaries –– only two mishaps occurred.
“As long as we have human beings working in elections, we’re going to have some human error,” Tieche said.
“We got it right 99.9961 percent,” he said.
Tennessee uses two types of provisional ballots: Green provisional ballots, denoting them as fail-safe, and orange provisional ballots, which are cast because of a lack of photo ID.
Out of 17 orange provisional ballots in Metro, four voters showed up at the election commission to show their IDs, according to Tieche.
The March 6 election marked Tennessee’s first with its new voter ID law, which requires every voter to show licensed photo identification to vote. Election officials have categorically said there were few hiccups in implementing the new requirements.
As for Wilkinson, unable to vote because of a misinterpretation of the law, he said he supports the state measure nonetheless.
“I think it’s a good thing,” Wilkinson said. “I just made a mistake, but their workers need to know the process better."