|Tennessee Secretary of State|
January 15, 2009
|Governor||Phil Bredesen (D)|
|Preceded by||Riley Darnell (D)|
|Alma mater||Memphis State University (B.B.A., M.B.A.)|
Tre Hargett (born 1969 in Ripley, Tennessee) is an American Republican Party politician who currently is serving as the Secretary of State of Tennessee. He is the son of Tennessee Adjutant General Gus L. Hargett, Jr.
Hargett, a resident of Bartlett, Tennessee, served in the Tennessee House of Representatives from 1996 to 2006. He was the Republican leader in that house from 2003 to 2005, having been elected by his colleagues to that position twice. During his tenure in the House, Hargett co-sponsored a constitutional amendment designed to facilitate property tax relief for senior citizens; the amendment was approved by 83% of Tennessee voters. In 2007, he was nominated to the position of Director of the Tennessee Regulatory Authority (TRA), which sets the rates and service standards of privately owned telephone, natural gas, electric and water utilities. Hargett was confirmed by the Tennessee General Assembly and served from February 2008 through January 2009. In January 2009, the state legislature's new Republican majority voted to replace longtime Secretary of State Riley Darnell, a Democrat with the support of Governor Phil Bredesen, with Hargett. Hargett immediately resigned from his position as Director of the TRA and took office as Secretary of State on January 15, 2009.
As Secretary of State, Hargett's duties include the chartering of corporations, the registration of trademarks and service marks, operation of the state library and state archives, and the administration of elections, among others.
Tennessee Voter Confidence Act
As the head of a department charged with administering elections, Hargett must administer the Tennessee Voter Confidence Act, which passed the state legislature nearly unanimously and was signed into law by Governor Bredesen in 2008. The Act requires all 95 counties in Tennessee to purchase or lease optical scan voting machines and hand-count voter-verified paper ballots no later than the November 2010 elections. Hargett has argued that it will be impossible to comply the law by the 2010 deadline:
The act is very specific. It requires counties to use only certified equipment that meets the security and reliability standards adopted by the federal Election Assistance Commission in 2005. Currently, there are no vendors certified to sell equipment meeting these standards. And because the commission’s certification process typically takes about 18 to 24 months, I’m not confident that a vendor could complete that process in time to have equipment in place for the November 2010 elections.
However, the EAC standards Hargett referred to are voluntary, not mandatory; furthermore, none of the voting equipment currently in use in Tennessee has been certified to either the 2002 or 2005 voluntary EAC standards. In addition, the Act does not require the equipment used to be certified to the 2005 EAC standards; it merely states:
Each county shall use a precinct-based optical scanner voting system on or before the November 2010 general election. ... All voting systems shall meet the minimum federal law requirements with regard to enabling voters with disabilities to complete the voting process in a manner that maintains the privacy of the voter's ballot.
Hargett's position on implementing the law has outraged Tennessee Democrats; the chairman of the Tennessee Democratic Party, Chip Forrester, declared on July 10, 2009:
Mr. Hargett is hiding behind a weak legal opinion that is subject to wide interpretation. Legal scholars believe that the Secretary of State has the authority to move forward and implement the law as it stands now. I can come to no other conclusion: Mr. Hargett is willfully refusing to do his job. For the sake of a fair, honest and accurate election in 2010, he must be removed from office. ... It’s obvious to me that Republicans are involved in a conspiracy to steal elections through intimidation, fraud, and denial of basic constitutional rights. This kind of behavior has to end. Hargett must go.
In the private sector, Hargett worked for Rural/Metro, an emergency services provider. At the time of his appointment as Director of the TRA, Hargett was serving as the corporation's Vice President for the Southern Region.
- "Hargett Resigning as Adjutant General | Humphrey on the Hill | knoxnews.com". Blogs.knoxnews.com. 2009-07-22. Retrieved 2010-09-04.
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- "12/7/2007 - Ramsey Nominates Hargett For Tennessee Regulatory Authority - Breaking News". Chattanoogan.com. Retrieved 2010-09-04.
- Locker, Richard. "Lillard, Hargett appointed constitutional officers in legislature". The Commercial Appeal. Retrieved 2010-09-04.
- NextPage - LivePublish. "Michie's Legal Resources". Michie.com. Retrieved 2010-09-04.