Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett Talks Stopping HR1 Legislation and Hopes for Common Sense to Prevail
Live from Music Row Friday morning on The Tennessee Star Report with Michael Patrick Leahy – broadcast on Nashville’s Talk Radio 98.3 and 1510 WLAC weekdays from 5:00 a.m. to 8:00 a.m. – host Leahy welcomed Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett to the newsmakers line to discuss the mechanics of the HR1 bill and the letter written by 15 other Republican secretary of states to Congress in order to stop it.
Leahy: Come Carmichael in studio. And on the newsmaker line with us right now, the Secretary of State for Tennessee. And I’m going to add this, I think one of the best Secretary’s of State of all 50 States in the country. Tre Hargett, welcome to The Tennessee Star Report.
Hargett: Well, good morning. Thank you for having me this morning.
Leahy: So HR1, the federal government is trying to tell states how to run their elections. What do you think of that?
Hargett: Well, I’ve signed on to a letter along with 15 other Republican secretary of state asking Congress to not pass a piece of legislation that really is just an overreach and would take away the state’s constitutional authority to set the time, place, and manner of elections.
Leahy: That’s a very clear constitutional overreach by the Congress of the United States. It has passed the House. What’s going to happen with it in the Senate? What kind of response has your letter gotten?
Hargett: Well, we’re not sure what’s going to happen in the Senate. It feels like it’s falling on partisan lines, but we’re hoping some common sense will reign in the U.S. Senate. and I’m hopeful that your listers, who feel so led will contact friends and relatives and other states and ask them to contact their U.S. Senators to make sure they’re going to vote consistent legislation.
Leahy: When I look at who is on the bubble on the Democratic side, two names come to mind. Senator Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Senator Kirsten Sinema of Arizona. Are those the two senators who have not made a public statement on this or who are in doubt in the U.S. Senate?
Hargett: I don’t know. I haven’t seen a lot of public statements on either side. Of course, in Tennessee, Senator Blackburn and Senator Haggerty had both express their opposition to the legislation. But, you know, things have been pretty quiet on the Senate side. I think they’ve been focused on some other issues. And so perhaps they just haven’t felt led to make statements yet.
Leahy: Why is this bill so bad for Tennessee?
Hargett: Well, great question. And so there are several things I think are just bad for Tennessee. And one of them is it allows ballot harvesting across the country. And you remember a congressional race in North Carolina just a couple of years ago, they had to be thrown out because of ballot harvesting. And a lot of people don’t know what ballot harvesting is.
But that is whenever someone else goes out and collects ballots from other people and then wants to turn them in mass. And the real risk here is that someone could change your ballot or they could just not turn it in. And that’s what happened in North Carolina. The person knew that the ballots were from people who weren’t supporting their candidate.
They collected the ballots, didn’t turn them in. And it was a close race and It made a difference. In Tennessee, our law right now says you have to turn in your own ballot. You have to mail that back in. So you’re not supposed to mail somebody else’s ballot back in or pick it up and put it in a dropbox or anything like that?
Leahy: That’s a good law.
Hargett: The HR1 one would make it where we can’t ask for a photo ID at the polls anymore.
Carmichael: In Washington, the Senate version of HR1. I guess they call it the Senate version. It’s not HR1. It’s S1.
Hargett: It’s S1. That’s correct.
Carmichael: But S1 can’t pass in the Senate unless there are 60 votes unless they overturn the filibuster.
Hargett: Well, that’s right.
Carmichael: In the filibuster kind of the first line of defense? And then Mitch McConnell has said that if the Democrats attempt to overturn the filibuster that he’ll invoke the quorum rule, and he will just tell Republican senators to stay in their office and not go to the Chamber.
Hargett: Well, those are certainly the options. I would leave that to Leader McConnell to determine what the best way to handle that is. I think the best thing, though, for us right now is to start making senators aware of the issue and how we feel about it before it gets too late. And it gets any momentum. Let’s squelch it right now.
Carmichael: Yeah. The Democrats seem to be determined to use their power to insulate themselves against political losses in the future. It’s just really quite mindboggling. Do you have that problem with Democrats here in the state? Or is it because the Republicans have such large majorities that you’re able to work with Democrats, at least to some extent? Democrats in Washington don’t seem to want to work with Republicans.
Hargett: With a few exceptions, I have good working relationships with the Democrat side of the aisle.
Carmichael: That’s good.
Leahy: That’s very Tennessee. You’ve been in office for how long, Secretary Hargett?
Hargett: I’ve been in office for 12 years.
Leahy: 12 years, and no scandals of any significance while you’ve been in office. Thank you for your service, Secretary Hargett. And thanks for joining us. Come back in the studio sometime If you will.
Hargett: I look forward to it. Thank you.
Listen to the full third hour here:
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