Mike Kernell headshot

Mike Kernell

Carol Chumney Attorney Shelby Advocates for Valid Elections

Carol Chumney

SAVE Shelby Advocates Valid Elections donate contribute vote

Dr. Joseph Weinberg

What is SAVE?

SAVE is a nonprofit organization based in Memphis, Shelby County, Tennessee devoted to researching, educating, and advocating for reform of the nation’s (and Memphis area’s) election processes to ensure the fundamental right to vote in public elections.

Why is there a need for SAVE?

The Shelby County Election Commission [SCEC] has operated a fundamentally unfair election system for over a decade:

  • Candidates, voters, and volunteers have observed reported vote counts flip between contenders for an office, electronic votes not matching reported results from the precincts, poll tapes disappearing, flawed audit processes, and legitimate voters turned away from their proper precinct, etc.
  • In 2012, the Tennessee Comptroller, Justin Wilson, did a cursory audit of the SCEC at the request of the Secretary of State. He concluded, "The primary responsibility of the SCEC is to conduct elections in Shelby County, yet the SCEC has demonstrated an inability to conduct elections without significant inaccuracies."
  • The Voting on Thin Ice Report of the SAVE founders is based upon 5 years of open records requests to the SCEC (through 2017) and documents serious improprieties.
  • There was a data breach and exposure of 650,000 Shelby County voters’ personal information discovered in an electronic poll book sold on eBay and exhibited at the 2017 Voting Village DEF CON Hacking Conference.
  • The SAVE expert, Mathew Bernhard opines that the election irregularities documented in the Voting on Thin Ice Report and the SAVE federal lawsuit and the sheer number of incidents which have negatively impacted voters in Shelby County is far greater than other jurisdictions and are not garden –variety election irregularities.
  • In addition, Bernhard states that the SCEC practice of transmitting election results over a network on election night from satellite zones is a “practice that exposes the system to even greater risk of compromise, and is another factor that exposes Shelby County voters to greater risk than other voters in Tennessee”.
  • Bernhard adds that newer “paper-based systems, and in particular voting systems that include hand-marked paper ballots and post-election audits, provide substantial mitigation to the risks facing voters in Shelby County”.
  • There has been a lack of transparency, due diligence and failure of the local and state election officials to investigate and undertake a forensic audit of the voting machines and systems, and also to replace the system with paper ballots.
  • The State of Georgia uses the same type voting machines as in Shelby County, Tennessee and the U.S. District Court, N.D. Ga. has held the voting system was hacked multiple times by cybersecurity experts who reported the system’s vulnerabilities to state authorities.
  • Activity meant to discredit Tennessee elections has already occurred in May 2018 where Knox County experienced a distributed denial of service (DD0S) attack, distracting from the fact that hackers were infiltrating their election system and injecting malicious code into the system.

The vulnerabilities in the Shelby County, Tennessee voting systems are similar to those in many counties across Tennessee and the nation.

The work of SAVE to research, educate and advocate will help bring needed reforms to ensure the preservation of our democracy.

The national security agencies have labelled paperless DRE machines as a great national security risk. The U.S. Dept. of Homeland Security has rendered the U.S. voting apparatus as critical infrastructure. The Senate Intelligence Committee agrees with this assessment and strongly recommends paper ballots with free standing optical scanners at the precinct level.

Currently only 14 of 95 Tennessee counties have voter verified paper trails (VVPAT) for their voters. This includes only one of the major cities, Chattanooga (Hamilton County). Yet, the Tennessee Secretary of State, reassured the Governor that Tennessee was well prepared for the 2018 midterm elections.

The SCEC although admitting that new voting systems have been needed since 2013, still has not taken action. The delay evidences lack of concern about the vulnerabilities of paperless DRE machines, especially in light of the fact that the machines are so old it is like using a computer bought in 2006 today, without upgrades.

To date, the Tennessee Election Commission, Tennessee Secretary of State, and SCEC have not taken action to protect our vote. If this stands, as well as in other states, then the U.S. elections that decide the President, and composition of the U.S. Congress will remain vulnerable.

Will the SCEC purchase new voting machines and systems in time for the 2019 Memphis municipal elections, or even the 2020 U.S. Presidential, U.S. Senate, and House elections? And, will the new machines be the right ones, or more of the same?

Join SAVE today to help make sure the vote is protected.