The minutes of the March 11th State Election Commission meeting, under "old business" said, "Coordinator Goins gave an overview on where the Election Commission is on completing a report on the Davidson County Election Commission. The final report will be presented to the State Election Commission (SEC) on April 8, 2013."
It has been told to me by several sources that a list of 200 complaints critical of the operation of the Davidson County Election Commission was being compiled to present to the SEC at the April 8th meeting. This was going to build a case to justify the firing of Davidson County Coordinator of Elections Albert Tieche. However, one of the commissioners told me that he was told by the SEC that the Davidson County Election Commission would get a chance to view the list of complaints prior to the April 8th meeting and as of mid last week they had not yet received them. I noticed on the SEC website that now the April 8th meeting had been canceled so I called the SEC to ask what was going on.
I was told that the Davidson County Election Commission had now received a draft of the complaints and had asked for additional time to review the report. They need additional time. As of now, there is no Election Commission and no one to review the report. Two Democrats have been appointed, one of them new to the Commission, but the three Republican seats are vacant. The report will be taken up by the SEC at the May 13 meeting.
There will be a telephone meeting of the SEC on April 15th to appoint remaining county election commissions that have not yet been appointed. Across the State, 415 of the 475 county election Commissioners were appointed at the April 1st meeting. Of the 60 yet to be appointed are the three Republicans to the Davidson County Election Commission. Assuming they are appointed at the April 15th meeting, they will have to immediately take up the issue of the SEC's report on the Davidson County Election Commission and four of the five will be brand new commissioners.
The departing commissioners had many years of experience. Patricia Heim had been on the Commission for twenty years and Lynn Gear had served for ten. Several others had served for a long period of time. Furthermore, they were the ones who had hired Albert Tiche and had worked with him for the last two years. The new Commission will have their work cut out for them in quickly learning the operations of the Election Commission and developing a response to the State Election Commission's Report.
It is my understanding that the detail complaints contained in the report were compiled by liberal activist Mary Mancini who reportedly has the ear of State Election Coordinator Mark Goins. I have not seen the draft report but understand the list of complaints is a lot of nitpicky stuff. There are no serious charges of wrong doing. Albert Tieche has had a challenging job to do at the election commission. Since he has been hired we have had a legislative and county redistricting, a Lakewood election that was won by only 11 votes, a City Council race that was won by only fifty-some votes, and in 2012 Jim Gotto lost a House seat election by only 91 votes. Anytime an election is close there will be intense scrutiny given to the election process. In addition, the Commission has had to learn new technology and train people in its use and comply with the new picture Id law. All of this occurred within two years. With these challenges, I think Albert Tieche has done an admirable job.
I do not see how a new commission can, in less than four weeks, become expert enough to judge the list of complaints designed to justify firing Albert Tieche. We do not yet know who the Republicans appointees to the Election Commission will be. Whoever they are, I hope they will ask for more time to become familiar with their new job and the workings of the Election Commission and ask the State Election Commission to hold off on making any decision on Tieche.