- Associated Press - Tuesday, October 14, 2014

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett said Tuesday that “I Voted” stickers featuring his name is a matter of accountability and not intended to be political.

Hargett spoke to reporters following a demonstration of a free smartphone app designed to give voters easier access to information on Election Day.

A reporter asked Hargett about the new stickers - red and shaped like Tennessee - that prominently display the words “Secretary of State Tre Hargett.”

The stickers match the colors of the Tennessee flag - including a blue spot with three white stars - but they also resemble popular campaign bumper stickers from fellow Republicans such as Gov. Bill Haslam, who is up for re-election in November.

Hargett is a former state House Republican leader and is widely considered to be preparing a bid for higher elected office, though he has downplayed his political aspirations. He said Tuesday that he never intended for the stickers to be view as political, as some argue.

“I’ve been a pretty good person about seeing all the angles about something,” Hargett said. “I have to admit, I never thought that somebody would … see it as political.”

Hargett said having his name on the stickers will let voters know whom to call if they have election concerns.

“It’s about accountability,” he said. “We want people to know that we are the people you can call when something happens. Whenever something bad happens in elections we get the phone calls.”

The new stickers, which will be handed out beginning with the start of early voting on Wednesday, replace the traditional ones featuring an American flag on a white background.

Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Roy Herron said removing the flag from the stickers is not in good taste.

“Anytime you tear down an American flag and replace it with a politician’s name … that’s a mistake,” he said.

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