Sevier County election workers review votes on liquor referendum
"It appears that there has been some influence by the business that tried to put this forward, and it appears as though there may have some been some tampering from the personnel level," Charles Rhodes said.
The liquor by the drink referendum initially passed by just 100 votes.
The lawsuit claims 2,364 votes were cast in the liquor referendum, but the group said Pigeon Forge only has 2,061. The election commission confirmed those numbers.
The group thinks the 303 votes came from county residents, who should not have had the question on their ballots, and not Pigeon Forge residents.
The liquor by the drink referendum passed by just 100 votes.
The Sevier County Election Commission has now hired an attorney to battle the lawsuit.
A member of the group who filed the suit said they want the results of the referendum vote be voided.
On Tuesday, poll workers with the election commission were double-checking the list of eligible voters in the City of Pigeon Forge.
"We are going back through the names of the people that had the certain mark to people that it needed on it to be able to vote in the city," said Sevier County Election Administrator Ronee Flynn.
The lawsuit against the election commission claims there were 303 improper votes cast.
"Ghost voters that don't exist on a list. That's no accident," said Charles Rhodes, a member of the group filing suit.
Rhodes said there were many irregularities, such as 54 new voters registering right before the election, voters registered as living at tattoo parlors, a pancake house, restaurants, and other commercial properties and voters registering with no street address or house number.
"It appears that there has been some influence by the business that tried to put this forward, and it appears as though there may have some been some tampering from the personnel level," Rhodes said.
Although there are no specific claims against the poll workers, the election administrator admits there was some confusion.
"Maybe getting them mixed up with city voters and county voters," said Flynn.
The commission said it's trying to clear any doubt and figured out what happened.
"We're going to turn it upside down," said Dennis Francis, the attorney for the election commission. "We'll look at everything. That's our job, that's everyone's sworn duty. These people are very diligent in following their duty"
The group is hoping the case will be heard before a Sevier County Chancery Court judge because the judge could rule the election invalid and throw out the results.
Alternately, he could throw the lawsuit out and the referendum would be valid.
The Concerned Churches and Citizens of Pigeon Forge group is asking for the matter for trial within 10 to 50 days after the complaint is served.
The Sevier County Election Commission has 30 days to file a response to the lawsuit.