Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett visited The Kiwanis Club at the Country Club Friday and had two messages to tell club members during his 45-minute long speech.
First, voting in Tennessee is entirely secure and is not prone to fraud, he said. Second, the state of the state is very good right now, he said.
“If you want to start a business at 3 a.m. in your pajamas, you can do it in Tennessee,” Hargett said.
Hargett made his appearance at the club just before heading to the Jefferson City Public Library for a check presentation.
Hargett had two messages for those in the room, the first part of his speech he spoke on the security of elections in the state while the last half he talked about how Tennessee is seeing an economic boom.
He also spattered jokes throughout his talk.
At one point, he said people think of his position as being important, but he said it isn’t. He said the line of succession is governor, lieutenant governor, speaker of the house then secretary of state.
“Anyone here watch the Olympics?” he asked. “You know what first place gets? Gold. Second place? Silver. Third place? Bronze. Fourth place? Absolutely nothing.”
But, on the serious side, Hargett said for Tennessee there is no fear of the voting process being tampered with. He said voting machines are not connected to the Internet, so it would be impossible to tamper with individual votes.
He said his greatest fear, however, is bad actors hacking into the state’s website and posting up misinformation before official election results are given.
He pointed out that could be a possibility to be faced and used an example of the 2016 election, saying it would have been an embarrasing moment if someone had tampered with the online results and said former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had won the state instead of President Donald Trump.
He said such a move would cause distrust.
But, he said it’s nothing new for the state. They have to face threats every day.
“We’re under constant attack from bad actors every day,” he said.
But, he said people should trust the election process because the majority of what happens is not at state level. It’s at the local level.
“It’s your friends and neighbors you should trust,” Hargett said.
Hargett wrapped up by reflecting on the prosperous economic times being felt across the state right now. He said he felt the start of that prosperity had roots with former Gov. Bill Haslam, who just left office after being term limited.
He said he also thought Republicans having a super majority in the state house and senate have also led to the boom.
Hargett said he believes four things have uniquely helped with job outlook and a good economy: low taxes, low debt, the emergence of strong two-year colleges and the state’s unique natural resources and beauty.
“I’ve never heard anyone ever say, ‘I couldn’t wait to leave,’” Hargett said. “But, if they did, I’m sure our response would be ‘We’re more than ready for you to leave.’”
The crowd burst out laughing.