Tuesday, May 04, 2010

May 3, 2010 Epps-Buchanan's Ad on "News"paper Rack Outside Entrance to Courthouse Violates the 100' Campaign-Free Boundary

This is a picture of the "news"paper rack beside the doors into the breezeway that connects the old and new parts of the Courthouse. The picture was taken from W. Second North Street about two weeks ago---during the early voting period for the May 4 primary elections.

Current Finance Director/Trustee candidate Nicole Epps-Buchanan had a political advertisement on this "news"paper rack during all of early voting. [Coincidentally, Epps-Buchanan also had a sticker on the paper itself on the day that this picture was made.] Click on the image to enlarge the picture.

State law T.C.A. 2-7-111 provides that election administrators mark off a campaign-free boundary at polling places as follows: The officer shall measure off one hundred feet (100 feet) from the entrances to the building in which the election is to be held and place boundary signs at that distance.

Since Epps-Buchanan's "'news"paper rack ad appeared to be in violation of the 100' campaign-free boundary specified by state law, I reported this apparent violation to local Election Administrator Jeff Gardner around Day 2 of early voting. Jeff said he would check with the state and get back with me. When I didn't hear anything for several days, I called the state Division of Elections to more fully explain the situation and to request their interpretation of 100' from "entrances to the building in which the election (takes place)."

Today, I called the state Division of Elections again to see what the final decision was.  It is my understanding that the state has advised the local election commission to establish a 100' boundary from the door(s) into the old part of the Courthouse.  In marking off a new, correct 100' boundary, Epps-Buchanan's "news"paper rack ad was found to be in violation of the 100' campaign-free boundary as was suspected.

Joe Swann, Chair of the local Election Commission, and Jeff Gardner, local Administrator of Elections, assured me that Epps-Buchanan's ad would be removed from the rack and that no political ads would be allowed on the rack at its current location.

I am grateful to state Election Division attorney Beth Henry-Robertson for her work in helping to determine  the proper 100' campaign-free boundary.  I also thank Swann and Gardner for going back and establishing  a new and proper 100' boundary for Primary Election Day tomorrow.

Good luck to all the candidates. Win or lose, all those who campaigned tirelessly for the past several months are to be congratulated.

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