The Dyer County Election Commission has made the decision to retain counsel to deal with questions posed from Rickie Tidwell's campaign about the August election.
Tidwell supporter Bennie Patterson gave six questions to the commission on Thursday afternoon. During Wednesday's election commission meeting, Patterson said a lawyer would be present at Thursday's meeting to ask questions of the commissioners and Administrator Jane Heathcott. However, no lawyer was present at the meeting. Heathcott said Patterson had requested the commission answer the questions and Tidwell would come by on Friday to pick up the answers.
"In light of the circumstances of these questions that may involve a lawsuit, I recommend that we retain counsel," said Chairman Joe Enoch.
The board then voted unanimously to retain counsel. Heathcott recommended attorney Dean Dedmon of the law firm Wilkerson, Gauldin, Hayes and Jenkins. Enoch said he had spoken to Dedmon and he has agreed to represent the election commission. Heathcott read from the Tennessee Codes Annotated, noting election commissions can choose whomever they wish to be their attorney.
"I'll turn these questions over to Mr. Dedmon and he will respond in the manner that he so chooses," said Enoch.
Commissioner Eric Maupin came into the meeting shortly after it began and Heathcott furnished him with a copy of the questions. Enoch informed him they had decided to retain counsel.
Commissioner Jerry Jackson asked if there could be some type of procedure for people addressing the commission.
Commissioner Harold Sartin said in his experience, people must be on the agenda to speak. Enoch said he was the one that recognized Patterson during Wednesday's meeting and would take the blame. Jackson said he was not complaining about Wednesday, but he was concerned if a large group of people came to speak and the commission had a lot of business to conduct.
"We've been very open and let anybody that wants to come in to speak," said Jackson.
He added that it wasn't something that needed to be addressed immediately, but the commission needed to think about it. Enoch told Heathcott that if people have a hint of appearing before the commission they should be asked if they would like to be placed on the agenda.
The six questions presented to the Dyer County Election Commission from Rickie Tidwell's campaign:
1.We understand that approximately 260 votes were cast at the Election Commission Office on August, 5, 2010. The rules state in order to vote at the ECO, an individual must have relocated within 90 days and sign an affidavit to that effect. We are requesting access to view these affidavits.
2. As of July 31st, the total of early and absentee votes was 6,689. On election night, August 5, 2010, the absentee and early vote total was 6,083. This is a variance of 606 votes. Where are these votes or can we request an explanation of variance, please?
3. The distance from Millsfield to the ECO in Dyersburg is approximately 10 miles more or less. Two hours lapsed from the time the boxes left the precinct to vote without signing in on the register? Please explain why some voters had to sign and others were not required to sign.
4. We learned from SL 100 that the Millsfield precinct allowed voters into the precinct to vote without signing in on the register. Please explain why some voters had to sign and others were not required to sign.
5. We also understand that when the poll boxes finally arrived at the ECO, one of the boxes arrived unsealed. Joe Enochs had signed off on this box.
6. On Election Day, the Poll Watchers were asked to leave the precincts at East Dyersburg and Millsfield. Why?