NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) – The chaotic status concerning Nashville’s early voting less than two months out from a critical city election has stabilized after a compromise that seemed to start with a spreadsheet from a Metro Council member.
Last week, the Davidson County Election Commission voted to shut down all but one early voting site without an additional $868,000 in additional funding from the Metro Council.
It created an outcry that included Tennessee House Speaker Beth Harwell, Mayor Karl Dean and several of the seven candidates running for mayor.
That’s when Bellevue-area Metro Council member Sheri Weiner stepped in late last week with her spreadsheet and some numbers that has satisfied both her fellow council members on the budget committee and the chair of the election commission.
“My goal was to truly find out how far we were apart,” Weiner told News 2 Tuesday, just hours before the council is expected to pass the mayor’s slightly tinkered with nearly $2 billion annual operating budget.
Starting with last year’s base budget of just over $4 million for the election commission, Weiner said the added up “wish list” of election commission staffers while “taking out last year’s elections, and adding in this year’s elections.”
With some cajoling of the election commission staff about what it could with, Weiner said they came up with the figure of $283,500 to be added into the commission’s budget, along with a promise.
“Let’s come back and look at this in October and do an in-depth study of the staffing needs,” said Weiner as she outlined the second part of the compromise. “And if we need to give you more money to cover that, that’s what we’ll do next year.”
Metro Davidson County Election chair Ron Buchanan told News 2 he had not seen Weiner’s spreadsheet but was upbeat that the full commission won’t cut the early voting sites to one.
“The staff has told me we can live with the numbers, and if that is the case then I feel good about the possibility or the probability of the election commission approving it,” he told News 2 Tuesday. “That takes us out of the personal liability category, in my opinion we are not willfully disobeying the council.”
Metro Council meets at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday to vote on the overall Metro budget with the Election Commission increase in it.
The Davidson County Election Commission has scheduled a meeting for Thursday afternoon.