Some Little-Known American History For Your Reading Pleasure, from Athens, Tennessee, August 1/2, 1946.
The Rallying Cry: 'Why fight overseas for freedom and come home and be denied the right to have your ballot counted?'
By Winter Patriot on 8/2/2006, 1:24pm PT  

Guest blogged by Winter Patriot

from Bill Poovey, AP, in The Seattle Post Intelligencer :

Felix Harrod, 84, was a 25-year-old poll watcher at the courthouse during the shootout and said it was common for incumbents in the county about 45 miles northeast of Chattanooga to take ballot boxes to the jail and stuff them with pre-marked ballots.

That was a practice the former soldiers hoped to stop. They offered an all-ex-GI, nonpartisan ticket that promised a fraud-free election and reform. Their rallying cry: "Why fight overseas for freedom and come home and be denied the right to have your ballot counted?"

from Jennifer E. Brooks in The Tennessee Encyclopedia:

Seasoned veterans of the European and Pacific theaters returned in 1945 and 1946 to southern communities riddled with vice, economic stagnation, and deteriorating schools. Undemocratic, corrupt, and mossback rings and machines kept an iron grip on local policy and power. Moreover, their commitment to the status quo threatened the economic opportunities touched off by the war. Across the South, veterans launched insurgent campaigns to oust local political machines they regarded as impediments to economic "progress."
...
When Sheriff Pat Mansfield's deputies absconded to the jail with key ballot boxes, suspicious veterans took action. A small group of veterans broke into the local National Guard Armory, seized weapons and ammunition, and proceeded to the jail to demand the return of the ballot boxes. The Cantrell-Mansfield deputies refused, and the veterans, now numbering several hundred, opened fire.

Poovey:

The veterans shielded themselves behind overturned cars as they fired shots at the jail from across the street. Sympathizers even served them refreshments.

McMinn County historian Joe Guy, now an assistant to the county mayor, said ... "It almost got to be like a party-type atmosphere."
...
Guy said that after the fighting, the GIs recovered several ballot boxes that hadn't been manipulated and counted the votes. The veteran-backed candidates were declared the winners and sworn into office.

Wikipedia:

The event is sometimes cited by firearms ownership advocates as an example of the value of the Second Amendment to bring fair elections.

Poovey again:

On the 60th anniversary of the uprising, Powers and others who can recall the 1946 violence shake their head as state election officials predict only about 35 percent of voters will cast ballots in Thursday's primaries in Tennessee.

"The lesson is that people ought to take voting a whole lot more seriously than they do and not let things get out of hand," Powers said. "Don't let the politicians just take over."

Click here to read more about The Battle of Athens.