In his deposition for the contest of election for the Pigeon Forge liquor by the drink referendum, the chairman of the Sevier County Election Commission indicates he believes the results should not be overturned, even after acknowledging that around 300 votes appear to have been cast improperly. The referendum passed in the Nov. 6 election on a 1,232 to 1,132 tally. Questions arose immediately, however, over whether some ballots were cast by people who should not have been allowed to vote. Election Commission Chairman J.B. Matthews acknowledges in his sworn testimony that it appears election workers allowed improper votes, but maintains he doesn’t believe that should cause the vote to be overturned.
“You believe the ballot ought to stand even with those facts? Is that what you’re telling me?” an attorney asks Matthews during the deposition.
“I think the ballot ought to stand as presented, yes,” Matthews answers.
“Why should it stand?”
“Just to protect the integrity of some of the voters.”
“If you take out the illegal votes and you can’t tell whether it passed or failed, why should it stand?”
“Leave that up to the judge,” Matthews replies.
“But your opinion is it should stand?”
By the time the election commission certified the margin of victory, several voters had filed formal complaints. On the day the commission certified the vote, a representative of the group that had opposed the referendum noted there were 303 votes that came from people the election commission couldn’t certify were eligible to take part in the municipal election.
Within a few days, the Concerned Churches and Citizens of Pigeon Forge (CCCPF) — the group formed to campaign against approval of the measure — filed a contest of election.