Election Commission throws out “Ban the Box” petition

On May 18, members of Democracy Nashville delivered approximately 9,500 signatures to the Metro Clerk in Nashville, TN. The Davidson County Election Commission says that they were not able to verify enough signatures to add the “Ban the Box” referendum to the August ballot (photo submitted).

On May 18, members of Democracy Nashville delivered approximately 9,500 signatures to the Metro Clerk in Nashville, TN. The Davidson County Election Commission says that they were not able to verify enough signatures to add the “Ban the Box” referendum to the August ballot (photo submitted).

The Davidson County Election Commission announced that they were able to verify only 5,902 of the 9,500 signatures submitted endorsing a ‘Ban the Box’ charter referendum (945 fewer than the required 6,847) on June 11.

Expecting some rejections, Ban the Box gathered thousands of extra signatures, but were still surprised by how many the election commission threw out because the voters had been removed from the county’s rolls.

“The majority of the invalidated signatures were from people who were registered voters who had been purged from the voter rolls,” said organizer Andrew Krinks in an interview.

“This means that the Election Commission found approximately 3,600 (or 38%) of the 9,500 signatures submitted to be invalid,” said the group in a statement.

With enough signatures, the proposed charter referendum would have appeared on the August 6, 2015 ballot in Davidson County where voters would have had the opportunity to vote ‘Yes’ or ‘No.’ Voting ‘Yes’ would have meant the amending of Section 12.05 of Article 12 of the Charter of the Metropolitan Government of Nashville and Davidson County to prohibit Metro Government from inquiring about a prospective employee’s criminal history on an initial job application, with some exceptions.

At the Election Commission meeting, in response to both an e-mailed and verbal request, a senior administrator gave verbal confirmation to a member of Democracy Nashville’s Ban the Box team that the Election Commission would make copies of all of the petitions containing its marks next to all invalidated signatures, in order that the Ban the Box team might have the opportunity to conduct a review of the petitions.

Democracy Nashville’s lawyer, Daniel Horwitz, also filed a formal records request Thursday afternoon to formalize the verbal request.

“Having turned in nearly 3,000 more signatures than necessary, we are extremely disappointed with the outcome of the Election Commission’s count,” Horwitz said.

“We have asked the Election Commission to produce detailed records of its signature verification process in order to verify its legitimacy, and we are fully exploring all of the legal options available to us at this time.”

The referendum, if it were to be voted upon and passed, would remove questions concerning an applicant’s criminal history from the initial stage of Metro Government employment applications.

Some exceptions apply. Early voting for the general election lasts July 17 – August 1, and Election Day is August 6.

“The crucial work of Democracy Nashville and its enormous, grassroots network of supporters and volunteers is not over.

The fight continues, and we will need your support in the coming weeks. Please stay tuned to our website and Facebook page for updates in the coming days,” said a press release from the group.