Mayor responds to complaints filed by voters

Published 5:52 pm Friday, April 20, 2018

Following a complaint alleging Carter County Mayor Leon Humphrey has made several visits to the Carter County Election Commission during early voting, Humphrey said his visits to the office have been part of performing the duties of his job.

On Thursday, a voter contacted the Tennessee Division of Elections and filed a complaint alleging that Humphrey, who is in the midst of a re-election campaign, violated the 100-foot boundary around the polling location inside the Carter County Election Commission Office.

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Under state law, the Carter County Election Commission Office is a polling place during early voting and is subject to the 100-foot boundary rule for polling places. Under the law, campaign materials such as signs, hats, t-shirts, buttons, or campaign literature are not allowed within 100 feet of a polling place. 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 individual filing the complaint with the state reported they had witnessed Humphrey going into the Election Commission Office multiple times during early voting.

Carter County Administrator of Elections Tracy Harris told the Elizabethton Star on Thursday that she had been notified of the complaint by an attorney with the Division of Elections. She said Humphrey had visited the Election Commission Office multiple times since early voting began on April 11.

On Friday, Humphrey reached out to the Elizabethton Star to address the allegation made by the voter in their complaint to the state.

“Yes, I’ve been to the Election Commission Office three times this week,” Humphrey said. “I was there on Monday morning, in the office not the polling place but the office, making color copies for myself and Commissioner Charles VonCannon for Monday night’s County Commission meeting. The Election Office is where I have always made those copies.”

The other two visits to the Election Commission Office this week were in response to sewer line issues at the building, Humphrey said.

On Tuesday afternoon, Humphrey said he received a call about a plumbing issue at the Election Commission Office which had resulted in the toilets overflowing resulting in voters being rerouted through a side door to the building.

Humphrey said he immediately called a contractor to come and address the issue.

The following morning, Humphrey said he went to the Election Commission to check the bathroom around 8:25 a.m. “before the polls opened.”

While at the office, Humphrey said Harris informed him of another maintenance issue at the building, and he began work to address it as well.

Humphrey said he returned later that day during his lunch break to see how the work was progressing.

“As mayor, I am responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of all county buildings and grounds,” Humphrey said. “At no point in time was I there to engage with any voters.”

Humphrey said his visits to the Election Commission have been part of the performance of his duties as County Mayor.

“These people who observed me going in there don’t have a clue as to what I was doing there,” Humphrey said. “They apparently don’t know what the duties of the Mayor are.”

“I was there doing my job,” he added. “I want the citizens to know that.”

Humphrey confirmed to the Elizabethton Star that Harris had, in fact, previously told him he was not allowed to be inside the polling place during early voting.

“I went there the previous week at the close of the polls to use the restroom,” Humphrey said. “Miss Tracy came up and said ‘Mayor, you are not supposed to be in here.’”

“I did not know that,” Humphrey added. “She did make me aware of that, and that is what she should have done. I know she has told other candidates the same thing.”

Humphrey also wanted to address a written complaint filed with the Carter County Election Commission in which a voter alleged that his sister, Judy Livingston, had approached another voter and accused mayoral candidate Danny Ward and his family of being murderers.

“I asked her if she had made the alleged statements,” Humphrey said. “My sister tells me she did not make those statements and I believe her.”

“This is just a smear campaign.”