By JONATHAN MATTISE , Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Tennessee election officials, who said up to 42 voter fraud cases could've occurred in last year's elections, can identify only one that led to a conviction: someone who tried to register the year before the vote.
A more detailed list produced by Secretary of State Tre Hargett's office Thursday also includes 28 cases of ongoing criminal investigations. The office provided no additional detail on those allegations, citing state public records law exemptions.
According to the list, the lone conviction came when someone pleaded guilty last year in Fayette County to illegal voter registration in 2015.
In response to a media request, Hargett's office tallied the number of possible voter fraud cases in December by surveying every county's election officials. In Tennessee, local election officials turn those possible cases over to district attorneys, who can decide whether to prosecute them or not.
The clarification on Tennessee's voter fraud numbers comes as President Donald Trump is repeating unsubstantiated claims that voter fraud is rampant in the U.S., and that voting by 3 to 5 million immigrants illegally in the country cost him the popular vote in November. Trump has called for a "major investigation" into voter fraud.
Voter fraud "exists in some capacity," Adam Ghassemi, Tennessee secretary of state spokesman, said in a conference call with reporters Thursday. "It's not like this fable out that is out there. Some folks obviously can politicize this issue and say that it doesn't exist, or it does exist and it's rampant."
The League of Women's Voters of Tennessee deemed it a mischaracterization for the state to use the term "voter fraud" about the list.
"Based on the observations of our volunteers in 2016 and earlier election cycles, we know that many of these reported issues stem from voter misinformation or confusion rather than fraudulent intent," said Marian Ott, League of Women Voters of Tennessee president.
Cases closed without conviction include two voters with address questions; a felon voting without restoration paperwork; a noncitizen voting; three double-voters; a constable who resigned after address questions; and two felons who falsified applications.
Overall, Hargett's office said they were informed of 18 possible instances of felons voting; nine of double voting; nine of residential issues; two of fraudulent voter registration; two of voters currently under investigation; one of fraudulent absentee voting; and one of noncitizen voting. The figures cover the March, August and November 2016 elections.
After Trump's call for the voter fraud investigation, Hargett said Tennessee election officials are "confident in our system's integrity but are open to learning more about President Trump's concerns."