A federal judge this week will consider naming a “special master” to get to the bottom of Tennessee Democrats’ assertions that voter data files received from state election officials contained partially or even totally blank voting histories for an estimated 11,000 voters. Attorney George Barrett, who is representing Democrats in a federal lawsuit against Republican Secretary of State Tré Hargett and state Elections Coordinator Mark Goins, said U.S. District Court Judge Kevin Sharp heard the case Friday in Cookeville, Tenn. The judge asked both sides to agree on how to deal with issues raised in court testimony, Barrett said. Barrett, who is representing the Tennessee Democratic Party and former U.S. Rep. Lincoln Davis, D-Tenn., said both sides agreed Friday night on a consent order, which they intend to submit to Sharp this week.
Efforts to reach a spokesmen for Hargett and Goins and the state attorney general, whose office represented the election officials, were unsuccessful Saturday night. “We agreed to ask the court to enter a consent order, first of all for the 11,000 voters with some kind of missing history between December 2011 and May 2012,” Barrett said. “We’ve asked the court to appoint a special master to investigate those facts and see what happened, if anything.”
Judges sometimes appoint special masters in highly complex civil cases where their expertise would assist the court. Democrats said they noticed the missing or incomplete voter histories while comparing voter files from December and last month, both obtained from the state. They said 527 Hamilton County voters were among those with missing information.