Election Day 2022: Tennessee coverage

By: - November 8, 2022 10:23 am
Photo of campaign buttons saying Vote 2022. (Getty Images)

(Photo: Getty Images)

The Tennessee Lookout will bring you live coverage through Election Day 2022 of the gubernatorial race, the campaign for the new 5th Congressional District between Democratic Sen. Heidi Campbell and Republican Andy Ogles, plus the contest in the 7th Congressional District as Republican U.S. Rep. Mark Green faces opposition from Democrat Odessa Kelly.

We’ll also be attuned to legislative races. If you have news tips to share, send us an email at [email protected]

4 months ago

Newly a U.S. citizen, immigrant from Guyana casts his first vote in Nashville on Tuesday

By: - 5:03 pm

Godwyn Murphy, an immigrant from Guyana, was excited to vote for the first time in a U.S. election. 

Murphy moved from the South American nation to the U.S. in 2011 and had always dreamed of becoming an American citizen. 

“I want a better life for myself and my kids,” he said. 

But navigating the U.S. immigration system was difficult, and Murphy struggled with paperwork until he received help from immigrant rights advocates at Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, which provides free legal services for immigrants who reside in Davidson County aided, in part, by almost $2 million in funding from Metro Nashville.

Godwyn Murphy, an immigrant from Guyana, voted in his first U.S. election Nov. 8, 2022 (Photo: Dulce Torres Guzman)

In September, Murphy officially became an American citizen. 

“I can tour the world now,” he said. 

On Election Day, Murphy took time off of work at Island Vibes, a Caribbean restaurant, and hitch a ride with a friend. By that afternoon, Murphy had returned to work and proudly displayed his “I voted” sticker on his chest. 

“America is a place that I love,” he said. 

He now plans to participate in each U.S. election, especially local elections, to exercise his newfound civic duty. 

“If you can go out and vote to change things, why not do it?” he asked. 

Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled the name of first-time voter Godwyn Murphy. We regret the error.

Last updated: 1:06 pm

4 months ago

Less than one-fourth of Nashville voters given wrong ballots during early voting have cast fresh ballots

By: - 3:59 pm

Less than fourth of mis-assigned voters cast new ballots by mid-day.

By 3:30 p.m., 99 people voted with special provisional ballots in Tuesday’s election after casting votes on incorrect ballots during early voting, according to Davidson County Election Administrator Jeff Roberts.

The 438 identified as voting on incorrect ballots during early voting were asked to vote Tuesday on special provisional ballots at the Murfreesboro Pike election office. But their votes will not be counted unless an election is contested and a judge orders a recount, according to Roberts.

Questions abound.

A Nashville voter tells the Tennessee Lookout she went to the Nashville Downtown Library Tuesday to vote, but when checking in she was told she would need to fill out a paper ballot instead of using the electronic voting machine. She was not given a reason explaining why she was “special.”

After seeing a Monday story on the Tennessee Lookout website, she realized she was probably one of the voters identified as slated to receive an incorrect ballot, which would have forced her to vote in an incorrect congressional district or state House or Senate race. She wanted to know how she could be certain her vote would be counted. 

Roberts said Monday the office identified about 500 people who would have received incorrect ballots on Election Day. 

The votes of people who were set to vote in the wrong district and were required to use those special provisional ballots will be counted Wednesday morning, according to Roberts.

The election office had to put them in a provisional bag to be locked and sealed and separated from normal provisionals, Roberts said.

4 months ago

Cannon County simplifies?

By: - 2:42 pm

The Cannon County Election Commission in Woodbury had this explanation of the state’s constitutional amendments on its website.

“Some have asked about the four TN Constitutional Ballot Amendments. We encourage all voters to read the Ballot questions carefully. Doing so will give the full details on each question. If not, here our 3rd grade run-down

Question #1 – Should “Right to Work” be set in the TN Constitution? (Yes or No)

Question #2 – If the Governor is unable to serve, shall the Speaker of the Senate serve in his stead? (Yes or No)

Question #3 – Slavery is illegal in TN. Would you like to reword that prohibition in the Constitution? (Yes or No)

Question #4 – Should priests and pastors be allowed to serve in the TN Assembly? (Yes or No)

While the election office might have been trying to simplify the questions, technically these explanations are incorrect.

For example, under the current wording in the Constitution, slavery is not illegal for thousands of convicted felons held in prison. The purpose of the amendment is to remove slavery from the Constitution, including for those in prison and involuntary servitude.

4 months ago

Election Day 2022: Voting in Tennessee

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland finishes casting his vote on Tuesday. Politicians and voters head to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn.  (Photo By Karen Pulfer Focht/ Tennessee Lookout)
Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland finishes casting his vote on Tuesday. Politicians and voters head to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn. (Photo By Karen Pulfer Focht/ Tennessee Lookout)

Toniko Harris, a Democrat running for State Representative was at a few Shelby County sites on Tuesday. Politicians and voters head to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn.  (Photo By Karen Pulfer Focht/ Tennessee Lookout)
Toniko Harris, a Democrat running for State Representative was at a few Shelby County sites on Tuesday. Politicians and voters head to the polls Tuesday, Nov. 8, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn. (Photo By Karen Pulfer Focht/ Tennessee Lookout)

Last updated: 2:57 pm

4 months ago

Locked bags await provisional ballots in Nashville

By: - 12:46 pm

At Haywood Elementary in Southeast Nashville, poll workers are on the lookout for two voters to arrive with misassigned ballots.

Election Day was complicated from the get go, said Andy Adams, a poll worker with 10 years of experience. 

At 6 a.m. poll workers were unable to enter the elementary school. A subsequent call to the groggy principal led to doors opening only 20 minutes before the polls opened. Within 20 minutes, Adams and his team were able to set up voting machines and stations in time for the first voters to arrive at 7 a.m.

But Adams now waits for two voters to arrive who had unknowingly been assigned to the wrong district.  

While only two voters were affected here, more than 400 voters across Davidson County were given the wrong ballots instead of the correct congressional district ballot during early voting. Critics have blamed redistricting that created split congressional districts in Davidson County. 

“I can’t even imagine it,” said Adams about the hundreds of misassigned ballots. “Somebody is not doing their job.”

Voters who were given the wrong ballot during early voting will be allowed to cast provisional ballots on Election Day, but election officials estimated 500 more could be asked to vote on corrected ballots. 

Affected voters will be informed of the mishap once they arrive at their assigned polling location and given the correct ballot. Provisional ballots go into a special bag — locked to prevent interference.

“Nobody can get in this bag until they open it,” said Adams. “You couldn’t get your hand in there even if you tried.”

Poll workers will turn in the bag at the end of the night.

Last updated: 1:15 pm

4 months ago

Long line at Sumner County poll, confusion in southeast Nashville

By: - 12:33 pm

The line was out the door and down the sidewalk at Gene Brown Elementary School, a Hendersonville polling site, around 11 a.m. Tuesday.

Election workers encountered no major problems, though they checked to make sure several people were in the right location to vote. The election supervisor said that was no problem, because she would rather they find out immediately than stand in line and then be sent elsewhere.

Voters were encouraged to read over a sample ballot before reaching the voting booth to ensure they were prepared, especially for the state’s four constitutional amendments. Hendersonville voters also were asked to decide whether they favor a limit of three four-year terms for members of the Board of Aldermen. The question places a two-term limit on the current mayor and aldermen.

All of those questions appeared to slow voters down somewhat, considering the state’s constitutional amendment No. 2 – which deals with the line of succession for an incapacitated governor – required voters to wade through three ballot pages.

At the Southeast Library polling site in Nashville, numerous voters were turned away Tuesday morning because it wasn’t their precinct, according to Davidson County Election Administrator Jeff Roberts.

The location was used for polling during early voting when any registered Davidson County voter could cast a ballot there. People thought they could continue to use it even if they lived in a different precinct and were supposed to vote at another location, Roberts said.

4 months ago

TIRRC Votes makes last push to turn out votes in communities of color

By: - 11:56 am

TIRRC Votes, the political spinoff of the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, is working on Election Day to make a final push to get Black, brown and working class voters to the polls. 

The group estimates it will have hundreds of volunteers canvassing, sending text messages and phoning voters as the culmination of a strategic voter outreach program that started months ago. A statement from the group says its goal during the 2022 election cycle has been to motivate as many as 1 million Black and brown voters to show political power and play a key role in deciding elections in Tennessee.

TIRRC Votes formed in 2018 and according to the organization’s website, reached 170,000 voters across the state within months after first organizing.

4 months ago

The play’s the thing: Live theater production entertains North Nashville voters

By: - 11:09 am

By 9 a.m., more than 100 people had voted at Cathedral of Praise in the North Nashville community of Bordeaux, one of Davidson County’s largest polling locations and one which consistently draws steady voter turnout. 

Poll worker Robert Taylor said the area’s reliable 30 to 35% voter turnout means he often sees familiar faces in each election.

One was Elisheba Mrozik. 

“I always vote,” Mrozik said. “My ancestors said that they fought and died to vote and I want to make sure my vote is counted on a local level.”

Elisheba Mrozik, voting at Nashville's Cathedral of Praise on Nov. 8, 2022. (Photo: Dulce Torres Guzman)
Elisheba Mrozik, voting at Nashville’s Cathedral of Praise on Nov. 8, 2022. (Photo: Dulce Torres Guzman)

Of concern this year was slavery, said Mrozik, referring to proposed Amendment 3, which removes language allowing for involuntary servitude for convicted criminals in the Tennessee Constitution. The new language would not prohibit an inmate from working when convicted of a crime.

Another regular voter expressed concern about reports of voters being given the wrong ballots during early voting.

“There’s always some shenanigans afoot, so yes I have a right to be concerned that people’s right to vote is being subverted in the state of Tennessee,” said Lora Manson. 

Kenneth Phillips, a 50-year resident of Bordeaux, repeated concerns heard nationwide of inflation, rising gas prices and grocery prices.

“The biggest issue is the economy,” said Phillips.

“Everybody is complaining about it. The way that Tennessee is going. It’s not family friendly at all anymore,” he added. 

The Z. Alexander Looby Theater in North Nashville, where a theater troupe inadvertently scheduled performances on Election Day. (Photo: Dulce Torres Guzman)
The Z. Alexander Looby Theater in North Nashville, where a theater troupe inadvertently scheduled performances on Election Day. (Photo: Dulce Torres Guzman)

Redistricting also loomed over voters. Floyd Murrell, a poll worker at the Kennie Playhouse Theater, said an issue in which some voters got the wrong ballots in Davidson County was concerning.

“A lot of people think it was done intentionally, because of the redistricting,” said Floyd Murrell, adding that 125 people had voted within three hours.

And while voters cast their ballots, seniors had the opportunity to enjoy a theater production of “The Dance on Widow’s Row.” Director Kenny Dozier said the play was intended to combat COVID-19 fatigue for seniors but having the play on Election Day was not planned.

Last updated: 11:27 am

4 months ago

In Davidson County some voters mistakenly assigned the wrong ballot must head to election offices

By: - 11:02 am

A mix-up in assigning voters the right ballot after a redistricting process realigned Nashville voting districts requires some voters who voted early to recast a ballot at the Davidson County Election Commission offices today.

Election officials this week posted a list of affected voters here. Voters with names on this list must cast a ballot in person at the commission offices, 1417 Murfreesboro Pike.

About 500 other voters, who did not yet cast a ballot but were incorrectly assigned ballots in the wrong district, are on a list kept by election workers to check at their polling site. Those voters will be given a paper ballot, Davidson County election officials said.

The League of Women Voters late last week filed suit against state and local election officials over the mixup; an agreement was immediately reached allowing voters given the wrong ballot to revote; part of the agreement includes a post-election audit of the election process to ensure similar errors don’t occur again.



Last updated: 11:07 am

4 months ago

At one Nashville polling site, 60% of voters redirected to other locations

By: and - 10:21 am

At one west Nashville polling location, more than 60% of voters arriving to vote were instead directed to other polling sites before 8:30 a.m., according to volunteer poll watcher Paul Worley.

A similar scenario played out in other Davidson County polling sites, according to state Rep. John Ray Clemmons, a Nashville Democrat.

Clemmons in a tweet said that 20% of voters were turned away at the southeast branch of the Nashville Public Library polling site and sent to other locations after precinct changes that, in some cases, changed assigned voting locations for voters from previous elections.

Paul Worley volunteers as a poll-watcher at Nashville's Bellevue Library. (Photo: Anita Wadhwani)
Paul Worley volunteers as a poll-watcher at Nashville’s Bellevue Library. (Photo: Anita Wadhwani)

At the Bellevue branch of the Nashville public library, Worley said poll workers were helpful in directing voters to the correct voting site. About 50 people had cast their ballot successfully at the site by 8 a.m., according to Breanna Grafton, the precinct officer. Worley said scores more were directed elsewhere.

“They’re doing a good job of redirecting and telling them where to vote,” he said. “Most people have been OK with it.”

Grafton said that because the library was an early voting location, some voters may have mistakenly assumed it was the correct site on Election Day. Other voters may have been reassigned new locations after the redistricting process, but were unaware their longtime polling location had been shifted.

A voter who would only give her first name – Marla – successfully cast her ballot at the Bellevue library on her way to work. Marla said she was motivated this year by one overarching issue.

“I was motivated to keep one person out. Lee.” she said, referring to Gov. Bill Lee, who is seeking a second term this year.”I don’t want that tricky pool with charter schools.” The voting process for Marla went smoothly, she said.

Michael Papuchis, a 30-year-old construction site inspector, came with his wife and young daughter to the Bellevue Library Tuesday morning.

Papuchis said he rarely watches the news and did not have a firm idea of all of the candidates and issues on the ballot this year. He leans Republican, he said. The one strong opinion he had? “I know who I’m here to vote against.”

Papuchis said he had received numerous campaign mailings from Caleb Hemmer, a Democratic candidate for state representative from the newly redrawn District 59.

“Everything is just abortion, abortion, abortion,” Papuchis said. “Give me another issue. I’m definitely more concerned about the price of gas and the price of food.”

Michael Papuchis at Bellevue Library in Nashville, ready to vote. (Photo: Anita Wadhwani)
Michael Papuchis at Bellevue Library in Nashville, ready to vote. (Photo: Anita Wadhwani)

A few miles east of the library, at the Gordon Jewish Community Center, about 100 people had cast their ballots by 8:45 a.m. and voting had gone smoothly, said Mark Burnett, a precinct officer. By that time, he had redirected just one couple who had come to cast their ballots only to learn they had the wrong polling place, he said.

Michelle Beauvais called the voting process at the JCC smooth and problem free.  A regular voter, Beauvais said she did not identify as a Republican or Democrat and voted for candidates that reflected the issues she is most concerned about.

“I don’t like how divisive parties have become,” she said. “For me I try to look at issues more than parties.”

This year, the overriding issue is abortion rights, she said.

“For me it’s about people’s right to choose,” said Beauvais, a 39-year-old architect.

Correction: Mark Burnett’s name was spelled incorrectly in a previous version of this update. We regret the error.

Last updated: 2:11 pm

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