Legislation challenging Tennessee's 2020 election results unlikely to advance

·3 min read

Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct the name of the spokesperson for the Tennessee secretary of state.

More than a year after Democrat Joe Biden's presidential victory and months after multiple audits certifying Biden's win in several other states, some Tennessee lawmakers want the Volunteer State's 2020 election results re-examined.

Sen. Janice Bowling, R-Tullahoma, has filed legislation asking the Tennessee secretary of state and the state election commission to investigate the state's 2020 election, including presidential and congressional results.

Bowling's initiative will unlikely advance, as the state's Republican leadership expressed little interest in the measure, citing the lack of evidence of voting irregularities in Tennessee during the 2020 election.

When reached by phone Monday morning, Bowling said she could not hear a Tennessean reporter clearly due to the severe weather in Tullahoma. She did not respond to questions by text.

The measure echoes baseless conspiracy theories among some Republicans that fraudulent activities led to a rigged election. Almost two dozens state legislators, including Bowling, signed a letter in January urging U.S. Sens. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., and Bill Hagerty, R-Tenn., to reject the electoral college votes, multiple news outlets reported.

Similar sentiments have led to multiple ballot recounts and election audits in several states, such as Arizona and Pennsylvania. Audit results have all cemented Biden's legitimate win, and lawsuits alleging election fraud have been thrown out by the courts. Then-Attorney General William Barr confirmed in December 2020 the Justice Department found no evidence of large-scale voter fraud that would have compromised the election outcome.

By the numbers: President Donald Trump's failed efforts to overturn the election

Outcry for audits mostly occurred in states where Biden scored more votes. But in Tennessee, former President Donald Trump carried the Volunteer State with more than 60% of the vote. He won all 11 electoral college votes in Tennessee.

Tennessee officials appeared unwilling to re-examine the 2020 election.

Secretary of State Tre Hargett's office said there is no reason to question the results in Tennessee.

"Tennessee had a safe, secure and trustworthy election in 2020. Not a single federal or state candidate legally challenged the 2020 election results in Tennessee," Hargett spokesperson Julia Bruck said. "With the strong voter integrity laws and hard work performed by Tennessee election officials, Tennesseans should be confident with the 2020 election held in Tennessee."

Bruck said it would also be a "huge challenge" for the state to review the 2020 results while preparing for the 2022 election.

"While we respect Senator Bowling’s position the fact is Tennessee is a state where it is easy to vote but hard to cheat," she said.

Adam Kleinheider, spokesperson for Lt. Gov. Randy McNally, R-Oak Ridge, acknowledged there is no evidence of widespread voting irregularities in Tennessee during the 2020 general election.

The bill, he said, appears to be "a solution in search of a problem" in the state.

"Due to the efforts of our outstanding Secretary of State, Tennessee's election infrastructure is strong and secure," Kleinheider said in a Friday statement. "While this kind of legislation might be worthy of consideration in other states, it would seem to be a solution in search of a problem here in Tennessee."

Doug Kufner, a spokesperson for House Speaker Cameron Sexton, R-Crossville, did not directly answer whether Sexton is supportive of Bowling's measure. But Kufner said the state has been a "national leader in election integrity."

"We have passed model legislation over the last several years and have been ahead of other states in ensuring our elections are free, fair, and forthright," he said in a statement. "We will continue to work with Secretary Hargett to protect the electoral process in Tennessee."

Reach Yue Stella Yu at yyu@tennessean.com. Follow her on Twitter at @bystellayu_tnsn.

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This article originally appeared on Nashville Tennessean: Challenge to TN's 2020 election results unlikely to advance

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