Sales tax vote breakdown not released

A precinct breakdown of votes in Wilson County elections can normally be found among the pages of The Democrat in the days following an election, but that won’t be the case following Lebanon’s sales tax referendum.

The proposed half-cent sales tax increase failed Tuesday by a 172-vote margin. The unofficial tally was 810 against and 638 for the special referendum with it the only issue on the ballot.

On Wednesday, The Democrat requested the precinct breakdown of the vote, but Wilson County Administrator of Elections Phillip Warren denied that request.

“We had an issue where there were a couple of precincts that only had a handful of votes due to the low voter turnout,” Warren said. “It was so low in those precincts that it would compromise the identity of voters and how they voted.”

Warren said two precincts had potential issues with compromised voter identities. One precinct had two voters and another had three voters. He said no formal open records requests for the precinct breakdown came in Tuesday, but he would seek an attorney general’s opinion on releasing the list if it’s requested. Warren couldn’t say with certainty whether the opinion would favor keeping the list private, but similar past election results in Tennessee were ruled unavailable to the public for inspection.

Out of 16,242 registered voters in Lebanon, 1,448 votes were cast in the referendum that cost the city about $30,000. Of the nearly 9 percent of voters who went to the polls, about 5.2 percent of them voted during early voting.

The Wilson County Election Commission will meet Tuesday at 5:30 p.m. at the Election Commission office at 203 E. Main St. in Lebanon to certify the results of the referendum. The commission will have its regular meeting at 6 p.m.