Irregularities have been found in last Tuesday's vote, according to Pith sources and an election commissioner. Specifically, as many as 10,000 people who early voted were not entered into the precinct-level electronic poll books, opening the door for double voting.
Davidson County Elections Administrator Kent Wall confirms to Pith that around 11 a.m. on election day, a poll worker reported discovering that a person who had voted early was not recorded as having done so in the electronic poll books which are used to verify voter information, such as their correct precinct, and whether they have already voted. Wall says that IT staff at the election commission and their counterparts at Election Systems & Software (ES&S) — which manufactures the EPBs and related software — soon determined what had gone wrong.
After more than 13,000 people voted early for the May elections, the commission sent those records to ES&S. But when the files came back, to be entered into the EPBs for use on election day, Wall says they only contained the records of a little more than 2,000 voters. The missing records meant that more than 10,000 early voters could have shown up again on election day and voted a second time without being detected.
Wall said that "less than a dozen" appeared to have voted twice.
In a letter to Wall, Election Commissioner Tricia Hertzfeld said the public had a right to know about the irregularities, but the chair refused to call an emergency meeting of the DCEC:
As you are aware, I have repeatedly asked for an emergency meeting of the Davison County Election Commission so that the issues with the loss of early voter histories, double voting, and potential voters who were turned away from the polls on Election Day could be investigated and the public notified as soon as possible. However, the Chair has declined to call a meeting insisting that a meeting is unnecessary and would be counter-productive. The public has a right to be informed of these discoveries and the candidates, in particular, deserve to know if anything that occurred on Election Day could impact their races. I am deeply disappointed that the Commission did not feel these issues of great enough import to inform the public promptly.
This year is the last year of the much-maligned BCS as we know it. It will be replaced by a four-team mini-playoff which, using the current BCS formula, would pit Florida State and Michigan State in one semi-final with an Iron Bowl rematch of Auburn and Alabama in the other.
There's little doubt those three games would be thrilling and would (for the cynics among us) be TV ratings megaliths.
But let's be a little bolder.
Often, when people talk about the appeal of a football tournament, they point to the NCAA basketball tournament as an example of how exciting tournaments can be. But then they, invariably, talk about an eight- or 12- or 16-team playoff.
But one of the reasons March Madness is so great is because every team that fields a Division I team could, at least in theory, win the national title. Each conference sends its champion (for the most part determined in a conference tournament), so even the lowest of the low can get hot at the right time and make hay. At the end, we're typically given the cream of the crop, but before that, it's the upsets that stoke the passion.
With a small football playoff, there'd be no Florida Gulf Coasts. There'd only be Dukes. Sure, the title would be settled on the field, but there'd be little chances of a minnow making a few waves.
So let's mimic it. Let's imagine a playoff where every conference automatically qualifies. Let's expand the tournament to 24 teams. There would be 10 conference champions and 14 at-large teams (the FCS — what was long known as Division I-AA — expanded its playoff to 24 teams this year, with 11 automatic qualfiers). At this point, conference championship games are probably a thing of the past.
What would that look like for what is now known as the Football Bowl Subdivision?
Here's our methodology:
- 1. All 10 conference champions qualify
- 2. The 14 at-large bids are given based on the final BCS rankings. Personally, I'd give the last at-large to Northern Illinois, which had a stellar season but lost in this weekend's MAC Championship; no one is saying a 24-team field would eliminate controversy.
- 3. The teams are seeded 1-24 based on the BCS standings where applicable. Teams unranked by the BCS are seeded at my discretion.
- 4. The teams are placed into four regions (we'll call them East, South, Midwest and West) using an S-curve system. I moved a few teams into different regions for conference balance, geographic sense and to avoid early-round match-ups that are regular season repeats. I'll note those moves below.
AAC - Central Florida
ACC - Florida State
Big 12 - Baylor
Big 10 - Michigan State
Conference USA - Rice
MAC - Bowling Green
Mountain West - Fresno State
Pac-12 - Stanford
SEC - Auburn
Sun Belt - Louisiana-Lafayette
2. Ohio State
4. South Carolina
8. Oklahoma State
9. Arizona State
14. Texas A&M
And here's how those teams would be seeded 1-24:
1. Florida State
4. Michigan State
7. Ohio State
9. South Carolina
13. Oklahoma State
14. Arizona State
15. Central Florida
20. Fresno State
21. Texas A&M
22. Bowling Green*
* These three teams were unranked in the BCS and are seeded at my discretion.
And here's how each region would stack up. Seeds 3 and 6 would play with the winner playing the No. 2 seed; the No. 1 seed would play the winner of the 4-5 game.
1. Florida State
Clemson was moved in for South Carolina to keep the region from having three SEC teams. Louisville was swapped for UCLA to avoid a UCF-Louisville rematch in the first round in the South region and because UCLA in the South makes slightly more sense than UCLA in the East.
2. Ohio State
3. South Carolina
South Carolina is here as a virtue of a double-switch — with Clemson moved east and then Oregon moved to the West. UCLA, as noted above, replaces Louisville.
4. Arizona State
5. Fresno State
6. Bowling Green
Fresno State replaces Wisconsin to avoid a rematch of Arizona State and Wisconsin's controversial Sept. 14 game in the first round. While moving Oklahoma State in for Arizona State might make more sense geographically, such a move would put three Big 12 teams in the Midwest and three Pac-12 teams in the West.
1. Michigan State
4. Oklahoma State
6. Texas A&M
Oregon is moved West as noted above and Wisconsin swaps with Fresno.
Of course, there are logistical questions — Where will the games be played? How will they be scheduled? How can this be fit in using the established Labor Day-to-New Year's college football time frame? But those are questions for other people. (And they aren't insurmountable; again, this is the same size field as the FCS tournament.)
That’s 7,000 more than the state figured would sign up as a result of the Affordable Care Act, according to TennCare Director Darin Gordon, who says about 1,000 have been able to so far.
All together, organic increases in TennCare’s budget are expected to total $180 million out of $300 million new dollars the state expects to have to play with next year. Officials expect another $57 million in built-in education formula increases to also eat a chunk of available revenues next year.
“Will there be some cuts we’ll have to make in TennCare, you bet,” Gov. Bill Haslam said after yesterday's TennCare budget hearing.
The state also expects it will have to close out the 16,000-member CoverTN limited benefit health insurance program come the first of the year, said Gordon, although he said he thinks there's support in his agency to use reserve funds to keep the AccessTN program open for another year.