Former State Sen. Kathryn Bowers says a series of actions by the local election commission amount to "shenanigans" – a point she stressed during a press conference this week (Oct. 10).
Set against a backdrop of elected Democratic officials and party surrogates, Bowers staged a call for volunteers to work as a 200-member "poll-watching brigade."
"I just wanted to say publicly that I am coming out of retirement," said Bowers, in a brief interview with The New Tri-State Defender after the press conference. "There is an extreme lack of leadership, and we have lost the confidence of the voters here in Shelby County.
"In the last big election, people who had not voted in early voting were denied their right to vote because they were shown to have voted. So much was going on during that last Election Day in August. I can no longer just sit on the sideline any longer. There is a leadership vacuum here, we must take measures to restore the confidence of Memphis and Shelby County constituency."
Bowers, former head of the Shelby County Democratic Party, was among the Tennessee lawmakers caught up in Tennessee Waltz – a sting operation the FBI ran in 2005. She completed her sentence in August of 2009.
When asked if "coming out of retirement" means running for office again in the future, Bowers stopped short of a definite "yes" or "no."
"I haven't been active in public life since 2009," she said. "I've kind of been involved in some other community things, but it just sickened me to see all the reports of mistakes in ballots, re-districting, registered voters not being allowed to vote. I don't have plans to run for office right now. We just want to make sure the upcoming election is fair."
According to Bowers' press statement, 488 voters had their voting history purged and a number of voters were incorrectly designated as having voted early.
Said Bowers: "It has become increasingly difficult to get public information from the election commission."
The event was set at the West Tennessee Democratic Headquarters, 3294 Poplar Avenue, Suite 310. Those interested in volunteering for the poll-watcher brigade should call: 901- 235-3510.