Davidson County Election Commission Causes Controversy
Election Commissioner Steve Abernathy
by Chris Cannon
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A controversial vote by the Davidson County Election Commission to review registrations of foreign-born voters will be debated when the body convenes on Thursday.
The study of all registrations completed at drivers testing stations by that group was proposed by commissioner Steve Abernathy.
He said the Motor Voter Act requires state employees to ask all persons getting a drivers license if they want to register to vote, even if they are not a United States citizen.
That fact raised a red flag with Abernathy.
"Do we have any non-U.S. citizens that are mistakenly registering to vote and how big a problem is this," he said.
He proposed reviewing all the registrations of foreign-born voters to see if there are any discrepancies. Abernathy said the review would help immigrants.
"If we can identify this and then send a letter out to them and let them come in and voluntarily remove themselves from the voting rolls, that will go a long to help them when they apply for their citizenship," he said.
Abernathy's motion passed with a vote of 3-2 last on February 21st. Election commissioner A.J. Starling voted against the proposal.
"We shouldn't be doing that. If we going to look at those, we ought to take 100% of them, and do them all, not just a particular group," according to Starling.
He is hopeful the commission will rescind the vote at its meeting Thursday.
Metro Nashville's legal department gave the an opinion to the election commission and said the members should rescind the vote for the study because it could possibly lead to legal action against the county.
Abernathy has hired and paid his own attorney to look into the issue.
"I didn't feel like Metro Legal was looking at all the avenues that are in this issue and I wanted a different opinion," Abernathy said.
Wednesday, another organization became involved with the criticism of the proposed study. Nashville For All Of Us sent an email to several thousand of its supporters explaining its steering committees take on the election commission vote.
"Taking one group of people and telling them they are not trustworthy in the same way that people who were born in the United States are trusted to affirm their citizenship when they register to vote," said Alistair Newbern, a member of the steering committee.
The Election Commission meeting starts at 1 o'clock at the Fulton Campus on 2nd Avenue in Nashville.