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Election Commission certifies election, hears of over-eager supporters

Election results from the May Republican Primary are now official after the Carter County Election Commission ElectionCommission-A-DSC01031-224x300voted Monday to certify the final tallies, and also heard concerns about campaigners tying up parking places and encroaching on city streets.
Election Commissioner Tracy Harris provided the Election Commission with the final results to be signed for certification purposes and a summary of costs associated with the primary.
The total cost for the May 6 election was $55,479.23.
Of these costs, early voting had a total of $9,125; Election Day workers totaled $19,288.40; and Microvote absentee and Election Day database and Election Day worker cost $7,723.50.
Other costs included $4,704 for machine technicians; $4,278.30 for legal advertisements; $3,277 for Classic Printing; $2,967.62 for various supplies; $2,000 for Election Commission pay; $800 for nursing home voting; $690 for facility rentals; $507.41 for postage; $388 for travel costs.
Commission chairman Doug Buckles questioned Harris if the votes had been reviewed and if the tally was correct before signing the certification paperwork.
“The votes are correct and have been canvassed,” Harris said.
After signing the papers, commissioners discussed issues arising during the primary early voting.
The commission talked about the number of campaigners that took up spots in the county parking lot across the street from the courthouse.
“I have never seen it like that before,” Whitehead said.
Commissioners said the number of people holding signs in the right-of-way and frequently standing in the street presented problems for motorists trying to drive near the courthouse, specifically those trying to pull from the side street back onto Main Street.
“Drivers could not see to pull out,” Buckles said. “It was the worst I had seen it.”
Whitehead said there were also problems from so many pickup trucks bearing campaign signs parked in the public lot. He said at one point there were 14 trucks in the parking lot, which limited the number of spaces available for voters.
“When people would pull in to vote, they would have nowhere to park and they would keep going,” he said. “How do we approach this to solve the problem?”
Buckles said he wasn’t happy with the way the crowd gathered around the parking lot, but there wasn’t anything the commission could do because the lot was outside of the 100-foot boundary limiting campaigning near polling places.
He said enforcement would come down to the County Commission to extend the boundary to include the parking lot, or to the Elizabethton police if any city ordinances were being violated.
Harris presented the commission with a complaint from a voter in the Roan Mountain precinct who wanted a written response to an issue. The voter claimed that campaign volunteers, candidates and election workers had taken all of the parking spots close to the polling place, including the handicapped spots, leaving nowhere for the voters to park.
Buckles said the commission did not have any power to enforce rules outside of the 100-foot boundary that exists at polling places.
Commissioner Wayne Smith said they could request that campaigners, candidates and workers park in the outlying spots to leave the closer places open for voters.
Buckles said another issue was present at the Range polling place, where signs directing voters to the appropriate area had not been displayed. He said when he visited the polling place, a large “Vote Here” flag had been stationed near the road but after voters got into the parking lot, it was not clear where they were to go from there.
Parking issues were also present at East Side Elementary, where school was still in session. Whitehead asked if the commission could find another place to host elections in East Side that would make a better location.
Other commission members pointed out that school would not be in session for the August and November elections, which would alleviate most of the parking problems.
“There needs to be better direction in the parking lot,” Whitehead said. “I just feel that is a poor location to have an election.”
The next Election Commission meeting will June 20, when the commission will lock ballot boxes for early voting for the August election.