JONESBOROUGH, Tenn. (WJHL) — James Reeves has not filed a lawsuit contesting the Aug. 4 Washington County mayoral election, which he lost to incumbent Republican Joe Grandy by 139 votes out of the 10,765 cast (a 1.2% margin).
State law allowed Reeves, who ran as an independent in the general election, five calendar days following the election’s certification, which occurred Aug. 16, to file a contest in Washington County Chancery Court. That effectively gave Reeves until Friday.
Reached by phone Wednesday, Reeves said he still believes he won the election and that certain voting machines were inaccurate.
He acknowledged he doesn’t have concrete proof machines used at the Heritage Center early voting site in Jonesborough weren’t accurate but said “the numbers prove it.” Reeves said he plans to continue “gathering proof and evidence,” and that he has requested additional information from the Washington County Election Commission (WCEC).
Reeves told News Channel 11 that he doesn’t believe the WCEC itself acted without integrity, saying “I never questioned their integrity” and referring to his claim it is the voting machines that are the problem.
The county’s election commissioner, Dana Jones, who said her office has invested more than 200 hours responding to Reeves’s information requests, said “voters can be assured the August 2022 election was a fair, safe and secure election.”
Jones mentioned multiple safeguards to ensure votes cast and voting machines are safe and secure around the clock. The commission uses a bipartisan system, with a Democrat and a Republican always involved, to review each machine and secure its accuracy and that it is always protected, she said.
“When votes are counted, we have a number of checks and balances and paper trail to guarantee that all our numbers match,” Jones said.
The Tennessee law governing contested elections states that any party who challenges voting machines’ accuracy can have those brought into court to be examined as evidence. It adds that the results shown on machines “shall be conclusive unless the court finds reason to believe that the vote shown on the machine is not accurate.”
“Nobody could tell me if I take this to court what it could cost me,” Reeves said of his decision not to file. “I could be responsible for court fees.”
The statute includes a section stating that costs and reasonable attorney’s fees will be assessed against the contestant “if the contest or the appeal is maliciously or frivolously prosecuted.”
Reeves also lost to Grandy in 2018, when Grandy won his first term. In a race that saw a much higher turnout, Reeves lost by 644 votes out of the 17,942 cast, a margin of 51.8% to 48.2%.