Election Office moves to new location

Published 9:11 am Thursday, August 20, 2015

NW0820 Election Commission Move D 4x6
Carter County’s new Election Office is officially open for business.
On Tuesday, the Election Office opened its doors at its new location at 116 Holston Avenue.
Previously the office was located on the second floor of the Carter County Courthouse, but the office’s records and equipment were stuffed in nooks and closets around the courthouse because there was not enough room in the office.
Now, all of the Election Office’s records and equipment will be in one location.
“It’s wonderful,” Administrator of Elections Tracy Harris said of the space in the new location.
The new office provides the secure storage required under state and federal law for the election machines as well as space to maintain and manage the election records. Election staff maintain records from elections – such as voter sign in sheets, election results and candidate records – and every year the collection grows.
Some of the records must be kept for four years, while others are kept for six. There are some records though, that must be maintained forever, Harris said. Those include legal records, election results, precinct maps, public or state correspondence and all of the meeting agendas and minutes for the Election Commission.
In addition to finally having sufficient space in the office, Harris said the new location will also provide easier access for some voters. Everything at the new office is on ground level, so voters will no longer have to make the trip to the second floor of the courthouse, which Harris said can sometimes turn into an adventure.
“Every election someone gets stuck in the elevator,” she said. “I believe it was during the primary that an 18-year-old girl got stuck in there and when they got her out she was upset and crying. It was her first time ever coming to vote. I felt so sorry for her.”
Early voting will now be held at the new office on Holston Avenue, but Harris said election day voting for those in the Courthouse Precinct will still be held at the Courthouse.
Holding early voting at the Election Office will help ease some of the congestion around the courthouse that has been seen in recent years. During recent elections, Harris said the office had received complaints from voters about the campaigning in the parking lot and how it was difficult for voters to get inside to cast their ballot. The mayor’s office also received complaints during recent elections from individuals trying to conduct business – such as registering their vehicles or getting a marriage license – who said they were not able to get into the courthouse due to the crowds for early voting.
The new office also has a conference room, where the Election Commission will now hold all of its meetings, Harris said.
While the location is new to the Election Office it was once the home of Carter County 911. Renovations along with some much-needed repairs were made to the building before the election staff could move in.
Much of the work was done by inmate work crews from the Carter County Detention Center. Harris and her staff – Laura Tester and Janet Brumit – also pitched in with the work, as did Election Commission member Paul Souder.
“We want to thank Sheriff Dexter Lunceford and Lt. Robbie Fritts for all of their help,” Harris said. “They worked with us and let us use the same inmates every day and that was a big help.”

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