Voter ID Law Impacts 4th Congressional District Race

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Voter ID Law Impacts 4th Congressional District Race

By Ben Hall. CREATED Aug 8, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Thirty-five votes are all that separate Congressman Scott DeJarlais and his challenger, state Sen. Jim Tracy.

The bitter battle in Tennessee's Fourth Congressional District will come down to the provisional ballots cast in each county.

NewsChannel 5 Investigates spoke with election officials in every county in the district, and found approximately 90 uncounted provisional ballots.

It is enough to sway the race, but it will be tough for Tracy to overcome a 35 vote deficit.

State Sen. Jim Tracy has been running for U.S. Congress for nearly two years.

So Thursday night, with race still very close, he announced to supporters that it was finally over and he had won.

"We did it," Tracy triumphantly told supporters.

But that turned out to be premature because votes were still being counted.

When the final precinct reported, DesJarlais was actually ahead by 35 votes.

The true winner will be decided by ballots that have not yet been counted.

They are called provisional ballots, and they come from two sources: first, from people claiming they are registered but who don't appear on voting rolls and, second, from people who didn't bring their picture IDs to the polls.

Most ironically, this race may have been different if it weren't for the controversial voter ID law that Tracy co-sponsored.

It requires voters to show up with a picture ID.

Out of the approximately 90 provisional ballots in the counties of the Fourth Congressional District, 45 are from people who did not bring an ID with them to the polls.

They have two days to show back up with their ID or their vote does not count.

Lawmakers passed the controversial voter ID law to prevent voter fraud.

Now that law may impact his dream of becoming congressman.

It will take several days, possibly weeks, to sort through the provisional ballots.

Once all counties have certified their results, candidates have five days to challenge the race.

If they decide to challenge, it's up to the Republican State Executive Committee to decide what to do because this is a Republican primary. 

Ben Hall

Ben Hall

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Ben Hall is a veteran reporter at NewsChannel 5. He has covered the state legislature, presidential campaigns and is presently part of NewsChannel 5's award-winning investigative unit.