Election officials receive 2 new complaints on campaign conduct

Published 5:21 pm Thursday, April 19, 2018

Local and state election officials received a pair of complaints regarding campaign conduct on Thursday and are investigating the matters.

On Thursday morning, the Elizabethton Star received a phone call from a local resident who said they had contacted the Tennessee Division of Elections to file a complaint regarding one of the candidates for Carter County Mayor.

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The caller said they had witnessed Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey, who is in the midst of a re-election campaign, making repeated visits to the Carter County Election Commission Office while early voting is going on.

Under state law, during early voting, the Election Commission Office is an official polling place, which means the 100-foot boundary on campaigning is in effect for the office building as well as the parking area. Campaign materials such as signs, hats, t-shirts, buttons, or campaign literature are not allowed within 100 feet of a polling place under state law. Candidates for office as well as campaign workers are also supposed to remain outside the 100-foot boundary unless they have official business to conduct inside the Election Commission Office.

The caller told the Elizabethton Star they had spoken with local election officials as well as filing a complaint with the Tennessee Division of Elections.

On Thursday, Carter County Administrator of Elections Tracy Harris confirmed she had received a telephone call from an attorney with the Tennessee Division of Elections informing her the state had received a complaint from a Carter County voter regarding Humphrey. According to Harris, the attorney said the complaint alleged Humphrey was “being in the office too much during early voting.”

Harris said she informed the attorney that Humphrey had visited the Election Commission Office multiple times during the early voting period.

“I told him that (Humphrey) has been told twice not to be in the polling place,” Harris said.

According to Harris, the attorney told her to have election officials document any time a candidate comes into the polling place and report it to the state.

“The only reason any candidate should be in here is for legitimate business,” Harris said. “I have to abide by the law. He is a candidate just like everyone else.”

A spokesperson for the Tennessee Division of Elections confirmed on Thursday that their office had received a complaint alleging that Humphrey violated the 100-foot boundary around the polling location inside the Carter County Election Commission Office.

In addition to the notice from the state, Harris said she received a written complaint from a voter regarding the conduct of a campaign volunteer who was campaigning near the Election Commission Office on Wednesday.

In the written complaint, the voter alleges that a Judy Livingston, who is Humphrey’s sister and has been volunteering with his campaign, had approached another individual who was speaking with mayoral candidate Danny Ward.

“Judy approached Danny while he was talking to a citizen and interrupted them by shoving one of Leon’s cards to the citizen telling them not to vote for Danny but to vote for her brother because everyone in Danny’s family are murderers,” the voter stated in the complaint.

Harris said she forwarded the complaint to the Tennessee Division of Elections and will be providing copies of the complaint to members of the Carter County Election Commission.

After forwarding the complaint she again spoke with the attorney from the Division of Elections who informed her there was no action the Carter County Election Commission could take regarding this complaint.

“He said (the voter) could go to the District Attorney if she wanted to,” Harris said.

Anyone who has a complaint regarding a candidate or campaign worker violating election laws is asked to contact the Carter County Election Commission at 423-542-1822.