New home will give election commission more space, security
Published 12:15 am Saturday, March 21, 2015
A new home cannot come soon enough for the Carter County Election Commission.
Earlier this month the Carter County Commission voted to move the election office into the former 911 Communications Center located on the corner of East G Street and Holston Avenue, near the Carter County Health Department.
The move will help alleviate space issues the office now faces as well as make it easier to meet state requirements for storage and security, Administrator of Elections Tracy Harris said.
“We’re spread out in five different places in the courthouse,” she said. In addition to the election office, Harris must store records and equipment in other storage closets throughout the building because there is not enough space in her office to secure everything.
Having everything in one office will help improve how the office operates, she said.
“It will give us more control over things,” Harris said. “It will give us more security, which is a big thing dealing with elections.”
The new location will also help with space for storing elections results and other paperwork. All paperwork related to an election, with the exception of the results, must be stored by the office for at least six years. The results must be kept on file permanently.
“What I would like to do is get them microfilmed one day so they will be easier to keep,” Harris said, adding the results are currently kept in folders in filing cabinets.
Currently, the election office is located on the second floor of the Carter County Courthouse. The new location is a one-story building so everything will be on ground level, which Harris said will improve access for some voters.
The new location will also make enforcement of the 100 boundary around the polling place easier, Harris said.
When voting is held at the courthouse, it is difficult to enforce the boundary because individuals may be entering the building for other business, such as registering a vehicle or paying property taxes. The election commission received several complaints during the 2014 elections from people coming to the courthouse to vote or conduct other business who said they could not find parking spots because of the candidates and campaign workers who were standing outside the boundary campaigning.
At the new location, the only business conducted there will be related to the election office and voting, Harris said.
“Being out of the building with the elected officials will help so much by cutting down on a lot of complaints,” Harris said.
When an elected official is up for re-election, they must continue to report to their offices for work. Those offices frequently are inside the 100 foot boundary.
“Any time an elected official was talking to someone in the hallway we got a complaint they were campaigning inside the boundary even though they may not have been talking about the election,” Harris said.
The new building will also have space for the Election Commission to hold its meetings, which are currently held in a conference room at the courthouse.
The Election Commission will next meet on April 20 at 9 a.m. for a reorganization meeting and may also discuss progress being made to move the office location.