Thursday, April 28, 2011
Committee Finds No Basis For Election Fraud
After a five-hour hearing, an ad hoc committee of the Tennessee State Senate on Thursday found no reason to overturn the election of State Senator Charlotte Burks of Monterey, and recommended seating her permanently as a member of the General Assembly. Burks has been serving provisionally while her opponent last November, Gary Steakley, was pursuing a contest of the election. Steakley had contended that the results of the election were 'incurably uncertain," partly because of some discrepancies in paperwork filled out by a handful of election workers in Putnam County. But the members of the committee apparently agreed with Burks' lawyer, Craig Fickling, who said no election will be perfect as long as it is conducted by fallible human beings. Fickling admitted that some mistakes were made, but said that those mistakes did not affect the outcome of the race. He also said the documents which were the focus of much of yesterday's hearing were not, in fact, the only ones used to reconcile election results. Committee members said that the burden was on Steakley to prove otherwise, and agreed unanimously that he had not. They did not, however, agree with Fickling's request that Steakley be sanctioned and be ordered to pay the cost of defending the suit. The committee will meet once again next week to adopt a formal report, which will then be presented to the full state Senate for a vote.