VOL. 130 | NO. 237 | Monday, December 7, 2015
Holden Calls It Quits As Shelby County Election Administrator
By Bill Dries
Shelby County Election Commission administrator Richard Holden is resigning his post at the end of December.
Holden announced his resignation at a Monday, Dec. 7, special election commission meeting, which was to certify results of the Nov. 19 city council runoff elections.
Holden’s resignation comes after a turbulent six years in the job. Democratic members of the election commission unsuccessfully tried twice to oust him from the position. State officials also investigated the office’s handling of local election returns following bipartisan criticism of election preparations under Holden’s direction.
Holden also is a former Shelby County Election Commissioner who came to the administrator’s position after Republicans took a majority in the state House and state Senate. The Republican majorities in the capitol shifted the balance in county election commissions across the state.
The five-member commission will hire Holden’s replacement, who will take the position in a presidential election year with the March 1 Tennessee presidential primaries on the horizon.
The filing deadline for candidates in the Democratic and Republican primaries for Shelby County General Sessions Court clerk, the only countywide office on the March primary ballot, is Thursday, Dec. 10, at noon.
The November presidential ballot is the most popular election cycle in terms of voter turnout and is the only one that consistently draws more than half of the Shelby County electorate to vote.
The last two presidential general elections in Shelby County have been flawed by local returns reported after other parts of the state had tabulated and posted their results.
Democratic candidates for countywide offices have filed lawsuits contesting election results in every county general election since 2010. All have been unsuccessful.
A Chancery Court order changed the results of a 2012 referendum on a sales tax hike to fund a suburban school district in Millington because of claims that voters who lived in a Millington annexation reserve area were allowed to vote when they shouldn’t have.
The order was the result of an agreement by the election commission and attorneys for city officials challenging the results.
Another Chancery Court ruling threw out the results of a 2012 Shelby County Schools board race between Kenneth Whalum Jr. and Kevin Woods.
Woods won the election in the certified results and on appeal of the trial court ruling. But the case documented similar problems with ineligible voters being allowed to vote in the race.