Election Commission discusses possibility of future relocation
Published 9:50 am Tuesday, November 18, 2014
The Carter County Election Commission one day might have a new home that is separate from the Carter County Courthouse.
After a short discussion at Monday’s regular meeting, the commission gave Paul Souder permission to discuss with county Mayor Leon Humphrey the possibility of relocating the Election Commission office. After the topic is researched, if a suitable location is found, the commission will present the proposal to the full County Commission.
Souder had discussed with Humphrey the possibility of moving the Election Commission to another county-owned property, but Souder wanted the full Election Commission’s permission before going any further in the search. The possibility of moving had been discussed before, he said.
“We can get this commission to a place where it needs to be,” Souder said.
By moving, Souder said the commission could be in a location with better parking and more space.
Commission Chairman Doug Buckles said he had heard of the option of the old 911 Communication building but did not think it would be right for the Election Commission. He said the roof leaked, the parking was not better and the building could not be made secure enough for voting machines.
“I am sure there are other buildings that can be considered,” Buckles said. “If we go somewhere, it needs to work for us. If we move, we are going to be there for a while.”
Buckles told Souder the commission had no problem with him exploring the options available to them.
“This is something we have spoke about a while ago but it never came to be,” Buckles said.
Also at Monday’s meeting, the commission heard two complaints that were filed by voters during the November election.
One complaint came from a voter in the Range district who felt having the polling place in the fellowship hall of Fairview Baptist Church was a violation of the separation of church and state. The complainant said because the polling place was on church property, he had to drive to the Carter County Courthouse to early vote.
The Range polling place was moved to Fairview Baptist Church’s fellowship hall after Range Elementary School closed. Buckles said moving the polling location to the fellowship hall was the only option to keep the Range district voting place open.
When that decision was made, the option was brought to the Carter County Commission and approved. The public also provided input in favor of moving the location to the church instead of closing the district and combining the Range and Watauga districts.
Election Commissioner Tracy Harris forwarded the complaint to state authorities in Nashville and alerted the county attorney. If the complainant wants to take the issue any higher, the complaint will need to be filed with the district attorney’s office.
The other complaint came from a voter who applied for an absentee ballot by mail but did not receive it. Harris said no record was found of the request and the voter did not contact the office prior to the election to ask about the mail ballot.