2 New GOP Commissioners Join State Election Panel

On June 10, 2009, in News 2009, by Mark Norris

Chattanoogan.com
June 10, 2009

Two new Republican commissioners were added to the Tennessee Election Commission after the nominees were confirmed in a joint legislative session of the General Assembly today.

The move to place the two members, Kent Younce of LaFollette and Judy Blackburn of Morristown, on the Commission honors a long-standing state law to give the majority party in the Tennessee General Assembly a one vote edge on the State Election Commission.

Republicans took control of both houses of the State Legislature as a result of the vote last November.

Ms. Blackburn is the first woman in Tennessee history to serve on the State Election Commission.

“I am pleased that we have taken the appropriate action to put these new Republican members on the board in accordance with the spirit and the letter of our state law,” said Senate Majority Leader Mark Norris (R-Collierville), who sponsored legislation that allowed the members to be seated. “Democrats wanted to maintain their control despite the fact that it is clearly in violation of state law and does not recognize the fact that the people of Tennessee voted for new representation in our State Legislature.”

The legislation, which was signed into law yesterday, temporarily adds two Republicans to the State Election Commission to provide a four to three Republican majority. It allows the three Democrats who are on the Commission to retain their positions by boosting the number of commissioners to seven. In two years, the panel will return to a five-member Commission. The bill also contains a provision to automatically give the majority party the one-vote advantage if the power shifts in the future.

Republicans said House Democrats had threatened to bottle up the bill in House committees earlier this year where there is an even number of Democrats and Republicans. Legislation must receive a majority vote to advance to the floor of the House. Norris had declared that, if House Democrats continued to hold up approval of the bill, Senate Republicans would not vote to continue the existence of the Election Commission, which was up for sunset review.

“This was a simple matter which should have been taken care of months ago in accordance with state law,” Senator Norris said. “These two individuals will be excellent additions to our Election Commission. I am pleased that we have seated these two members on the Election Commission in accordance with the letter and spirit of the law.”

Ms. Blackburn, 62, has served for four years on the Hamblen County Election Commission. She was also a small business owner for over 30 years.

Mr. Younce, 64, is a member of the Campbell County Election Commission and is executive vice president for Security Finance Corporation.

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