Tennessee Democrats caught up in voter data snafu

Gubernatorial candidate blames state party; chairman points to national committee

John Partipilo / Tennessee Lookout / Jason Martin is shown at his 2021 campaign announcement. Martin narrowly defeated Memphis City Councilman JB Smiley to win the Democratic nomination for governor last week and will face Republican incumbent Bill Lee in the November general election.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Jason Martin and the Tennessee Democratic Party are at odds over bad information his campaign received from the party and sent to voters in a mass text message just days before the Aug. 4 election.

Martin, who narrowly defeated Memphis City Councilman JB Smiley to win the nomination, was caught off guard when Secretary of State Tre Hargett notified his campaign that it sent text messages to voters containing incorrect precinct and polling places.

Martin campaign spokeswoman Emily Cupples said the texts went out to 41,000 Democratic voters based on information the campaign received from the state party, which wasn't updated to reflect statewide redistricting this year.

Martin's campaign spent about $2,500 sending out texts again, this time telling voters to check their polling places at the secretary of state's website.