Convenient DestructionYesterday, the Knox County Election Commission defeated the so-called "convenience voting" in a 3-2 vote. The result is a classic example of just why the change in composition of Tennessee's county election commissions from Democratic dominance to Republican control is so important-especially in East Tennessee:
The pilot project, which would have replaced the city's 52 precinct polls with 10 centrally located voting centers open during a 20-day window, needed a supermajority of four votes among the five appointed election commissioners. The panel's three Republican members voted against the proposal, voicing their skepticism of whether the plan would actually making the voting process more convenient for citizens.
"Right now, we have convenience voting," said Commissioner Paul Crilly, a Republican, noting the two-week early voting periods that already precede election days.
"And we have other means - absentee ballots and so forth. I'm not comfortable with changing our system for the convenience of the county."
There is a reason that Crilly and the other Republican Election Commissioners are so concerned about this new "convenience" and its elimination of the precinct-in Knox County, as in most East Tennessee counties, the Republican party is organized by precinct. Each precinct has a precinct Chairman and a number of precinct delegates who can be convened to district conventions if necessary. More importantly, these precinct organizations are what help with Republican get-out-the-vote efforts all over East Tennessee. The Knox County Republican Party's governing apparatus has been in some disarray for a couple of years at least, but the precinct structure is still very much in place, along with neighborhood Republican clubs.
Similarly, the precinct structure is very much in place in Jefferson County, and will likely be re-enforced with a Republican-led Election Commission. Why would certain people want to take this "pilot program" to other East Tennessee counties, and then Statewide? Because Democrats know that in East Tennessee, Republican dominance filters down to the precinct level, and they can't beat Republicans at the polls, so they must destroy the party from within.
Destroy the precinct, and you can destroy the Republican Party in East Tennessee. Perhaps the politically naive can't see that would be the ultimate end of such a voting scheme, but neither the Democrats who came up with the idea nor the veteran Republicans on the Election Commission are that naive. Republicans are not going to sign off on their own partisan death warrant.