Monday 4th March 2024

State Election Commission Revokes Certification Of Benton Co. Elections Administrator


Camden, Tenn.–In a rare move, the State Election Commission has revoked the certification of Benton County Elections Administrator Mark Ward.

In a statement issued Tuesday night by State Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins to RadioNWTN, Goins said, “Mark Ward is first administrator to have his certification revoked in 16 years and is the only current administrator in the state to have his certification revoked.”

The State Election Commission’s vote followed a Show Case Hearing in Nashville on Monday, June 14.

State Coordinator Mark Goins issued the official notice of revocation Tuesday, June 15, with copies sent to the Benton County Election Commission members.

Five allegations were heard at the Show Cause hearing, which include: failure to timely process voter registrations; failure to perform required list maintenance duties to maintain accurate vote registration records; falsely accusing State Election Commission of improperly appointing Benton County Election Commission members; demonstrating impartiality at Benton County Commission; illegally advising Benton County Provisional Counting Board not to count provisional ballot legally cast by a voter.

In a statement released to RadioNWTN by Goins Tuesday evening, Goins said in full:

“Rarely do Republicans and Democrats agree on anything.  However, after looking at the evidence, three Republican and three Democratic State Election Commission members agreed to revoke the Administrator of Elections certification of Mark Ward.  Most of Mark Ward’s defense blamed prior election commission members for the issues in the 2018 and 2020 elections.  Charges against Mark Ward included showing partiality as an administrator, improperly counting mail-in ballots, unequal party representation in the election process, not timely registering voters, failing to remove ineligible voters from the Benton County voter rolls, and misinforming the public about how local election commissioners are appointed.  Hearings to revoke an administrator’s certification are extremely rare in Tennessee and are only held after there is substantial evidence the administrator has failed do the job.  Mark Ward is first administrator to have his certification revoked in 16 years and is the only current administrator in the state to have his certification revoked.  The ramification of certification revocation is that an administrator of elections no longer has to be paid the statutory minimum.  The state election commission does not have the authority to hire or fire and administrator of elections.  Prior to yesterday’s hearing, Mark Ward was entitled to $70,000 in salary.  The state supplemented part of that salary by sending quarterly payments to Benton County.  When certification is revoked, the state supplement stops immediately.
“State officials are puzzled by claims by some that the revocation hearing would affect the voting system in Benton County.  Currently, 28 counties use paper ballots as a voting method in Tennessee with more counties in the process of purchase paper ballot systems. The revocation of the administrator’s certification has no bearing on the voting system used in Benton County.  Anyone who says otherwise is misleading the public.”