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A clean slate: Sites, machines ready to go

With polls opening across Carter County this morning for the Republican Primary election, officials spent a large part of Monday working to make sure the polls opened up without a hitch.
Voting machines, supplies and signs were packed up and divided into precincts and election workers were picking up the items for their polling location throughout the day on Monday.
Administrator of Elections Tracy Harris said the machines and supplies were delivered to the poll locations on Monday and placed in a secure location overnight so all of the needed equipment was there to open the polls this morning at 8. Harris said there will be “roughly 150” election workers across the various precincts to assist voters today including machine operators, registrars, judges and one election officer per precinct.
“They run zero tapes before they open for voting,” Harris said, adding that this is done to show that no votes were cast on the machines prior to the opening of the polls. Once the polls close tonight, three tapes will be run off each machine for accuracy monitoring and one of those tapes is posted on the wall for inspection.
Harris said that there are a few things voters should keep in mind before heading to the polls today, including a change for precinct voting location.
“Range Precinct now votes at Fairview Baptist Church instead of Range Elementary,” she said, adding that voters for that precinct were notified by mail when that change occurred.
Carter County Schools are closed for the election, but Harris said Elizabethton City Schools will be in session today. Due to school being in session, Harris said voters in the Westside, Eastside, Harold McCormick and High School precincts might encounter some parking issues at those locations if they head to the polls while school is in session for the day.
With two individuals running for County Commission seats as write-in candidates, Harris said that all of the election results will not be available tonight once the polls close.
“They have to be hand counted,” Harris said of write-in votes. “Our canvasing board counts them the next day as they read the tapes.”
According to Harris the number of write-in votes will be eligible on election night once all the precincts are counted, but that election officials will not know who those votes were cast for until the canvasing on Wednesday.
Write-in votes can sometimes be entertaining, according to Harris.
“You wouldn’t believe the things we see,” she said, adding that she has seen write-in votes for cartoon characters and even some where the voter typed in an obscenity instead of an actual name.
“We used to have to type up every single one and send it to the state,” Harris said. The law regarding write-in candidates changed requiring that write-in candidates be certified by completing a form to be a write-in candidate at least 50 days prior to the election. Since the change, only the totals for certified write-in candidates must be sent to the state Harris said.
Election polls open at 8 a.m. today and will close at 8 p.m. tonight. Those already in line at 8 p.m. will be allowed to remain and vote. Harris reminds everyone to bring their state of Tennessee or federal ID with them when they go to vote.