Pigeon Forge candidate upset over mailing

Robinson files complaint with election office
May. 02, 2013 @ 11:39 PM

Pigeon Forge City Commission candidate Randal Robinson filed a formal complaint with the Sevier County Election Commission on Wednesday concerning an election-related card mailed to city residents.

The card encourages Pigeon Forge residents to vote early at the Election Commission office in Sevierville and it endorses three of the six candidates.

"We encourage you to vote for Kevin McClure, Joyce Brackins, and Jay Ogle" is typed at the bottom of the postcards. Below that is a disclaimer that reads "Paid for by Friends of Pigeon Forge."

The disclaimer, however, appears to be covered by a barcode label. By providing the election office address but covering up the disclaimer, Robinson believes the card suggests the Election Commission is endorsing candidates.

"It's got that address for the Election Commission, and I just think it looks like the Election Commission sent it out endorsing some people," Robinson said. "I looked at several of them and all of them have the label on the same place covering up the disclaimer. It doesn't seem right. I've had several people call me about it."

Election Commission official Ed Kuncitis, however, said the commission did not send the cards and does not endorse candidates.

"We understand the possible confusion, but we have nothing to do with that," Kuncitis said. "We don't endorse any candidates."

In addition to Robinson's formal complaint, Kuncitis said the commission has received several other informal complaints about the mailed cards.

"The way it's written, it says there's early voting and it gives our locations and times," Kuncitis said. "Some people are thinking that's our return address, but we actually have a P.O. box for our mail."

Kuncitis said he had informed the state election commission of the issue and was waiting to here back about what to do, if anything.

Friends of Pigeon Forge recently registered with the Election Commission as a campaigning group. The group's chairman and treasurer, Ken Maples, denied responsibility for covering the disclaimer with the label.

"The post office is putting the label over that," Maples said. ""We have nothing to do with putting the barcode label on there."

Maples said the group sent the cards merely to remind people about early voting and to encourage them to vote for the three candidates the group endorses.

As the card states, early voting for the Pigeon Forge Municipal Election continues through May 9 at the Election Commission office. Early voting hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. weekdays, 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. Voting hours on election day, May 14, will be 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. at City Hall.

rhargett@themountainpress.com