State House candidate Gloria Johnson files court injunction over Knox County provisional ballots

Gloria Johnson (l) and Rep. Eddie Smith (r)
Gloria Johnson (l) and Rep. Eddie Smith (r)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – Democrat Gloria Johnson has filed an injunction against the Knox County Election Commission and its administrator Cliff Rogers over 597 provisional ballots that she says could change the result of the State House District 13 race in her favor.

With all the early, precinct and absentee votes counted, incumbent Eddie Smith received 154 votes more than Johnson. Johnson’s injunction asks for Rogers to turn over the provisional ballots so they can be counted.

Previous story: Tight race between Johnson, Smith in Tenn. House District 13

The Knox County Election Commission explained there are two types of provisional ballots which are color coded.

The green group is when a voter may not be found in the database, moved, registered too late or is a felon. The other is the orange group, when a voter does not bring in a proper ID.

In this case there are 56 provisional ballots which fall into the orange group. The law only gives voters 48 hours after the election to show that documentation, specifically a photo ID. Johnson argues that next week would be too late for a voter to show needed documentation for their vote to count.

“Those are the ones we want to get the information to them, that’s why we wanted that list because we wanted to call them, see if they understood the process, what they had to do, what their timeline and time constraints were,” said Johnson.

She says while it is unknown how many of the ballots were within the 13th district, she wants to make sure every vote is counted. By Thursday afternoon, Johnson says her injunction was not granted and therefore it was too late to get those names.

She also said she has confirmed two people in her district did not get the correct ballot at the polls.

Web Extra: Read the injunction [PDF]

Johnson still has questions about the more than 500 provisional ballots left to be counted.

“Why is there such a long wait?” she asked.

Generally, the Knox County Election Commission meets three days after the election to count votes, but Friday is a holiday and their office will be closed.

“Is it conceivable? Is it likely? I don’t even know what the probability is, but I think we’ve got more than we typically have in provisional ballots,” Johnson said when asked if she thinks those votes would make a difference.

The Knox County Election Commission says they’ve already begun researching and fact finding the votes part of the green group. Those votes will be counted on Monday.

Johnson declined to concede the race Tuesday night, even after Smith declared victory.

“We’ll talk about that when the last vote is counted,” she said when asked what would happen if this doesn’t end in Johnson’s favor.

Rep. Eddie Smith’s office sent the following statement: “At this point we have nothing further to add. This issue is now between Ms. Johnson and the Election Commission. We have 100 percent confidence in the Knox County Election Commission.”

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