Voter registration deadline looms for March elections

Published 10:24 am Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye The Election Commission has stickers and buttons on hand to pass out to voters who want them.

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye
The Election Commission has stickers and buttons on hand to pass out to voters who want them.

Only a few days remain to register for the upcoming Presidential and county office primary elections.
Election Day is March 1, but the last day to register in order to be eligible to cast your ballot is Feb. 1, which is Monday. Voter registration forms must be turned in to the Election Commission or be postmarked by Feb. 1.
Early voting will begin on Feb. 10 and continue Monday through Saturday through Feb. 23. The early voting polls will be open from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. on Monday through Friday and from 9 a.m. until Noon on Saturdays. On election day, March 1, the polls will be open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. Those already in line at 8 p.m. when the polls close will be allowed to vote. For voting during both early voting and election day voters must present either a State of Tennessee or federal photo
identification card in order to be able to vote.
Before the polls open for early voting on Feb. 10, the voting machines will be inspected by the Election Commission and representatives of the two major political parties at 8 a.m.
“At least one person from each party has to be here,” Administrator of Elections Tracy Harris said. “We send a notice out to the party chairs and they can either come or delegate it to the election commissioners of each party.”
During the machine inspection, election commissioners and party representatives inspect the seals on the machines to make no tampering has taken place and each machine is opened and turned on to ensure it is displaying that zero votes have been cast. Once the machines have been certified at inspection, they can then be set up for early voting to begin.
This will be the first election for the Election Commission since it moved to it’s new home at 116 Holston Avenue. The office was previously located on the second floor of the Carter County Courthouse but in 2015 the Election Commission moved into the building once occupied by Carter County 911.
“It’s going to be a good breaking in election to see how things work,” Harris said.
The major difference due to the move, Harris said, is that early voting will be held at the Election Commission office rather than inside the courthouse like in previous elections. Election day voting for those voters who reside in the “courthouse” precinct will still be held at the Carter County Courthouse, Harris added. No voting will take place at the Election Commission office on election day, she added.
Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye Voter sign in station are set up and ready for early voting to begin in just about 2 weeks.

Star Photo/Abby Morris-Frye
Voter sign in station are set up and ready for early voting to begin in just about 2 weeks.

During early voting, the Election Commission office the 100-foot boundary rule will apply, which means candidates will not be allowed to campaign and no campaign signs, shirts or other materials will be allowed within 100 feet of the polling place. This rule also applies to all voting locations on election day.
If there is a large amount of voter turnout during the early voting period, parking could potentially cause some issues at the Election Commission office as the lot is smaller than the public lot at the courthouse. However, Harris said the commission worked out an agreement with First Baptist Church to allow voters to park in the lot between Holston Avenue and Lynn Avenue, which is located between the church and the Election Commission office.
“Please use our parking lot or park across the street at the church,” Harris said, adding that voters are asked not to park at the Carter County Health Department so as not to affect the families or individuals seeking treatment or assistance there.
This election will feature the Presidential preference primary election for both the Republican and Democrat parties as well as the primary election for some county seats. When voters sign in to cast their ballot, they will have to choose whether to vote in the Republican or Democrat primaries, Harris said, adding a voter cannot choose to vote in both primaries.
Because no Democrat candidates filed to run for the county primary election, no candidates for those offices will appear on the ballots of voters who chose to vote in the Democrat primary, Harris said.
In the local primary election, Carter Countians will vote for the office of Assessor of Property. One only candidate, the incumbent Ronnie B. Taylor, filed paperwork for the primary election.
Voters in the county’s 1st and 3rd Districts will vote to fill two unexpired terms on the Carter County Commission. In 2015, Jerry Proffitt, who was elected in 2014 to represent the 1st District, and Beth Depew, who was elected the same year to represent the 3rd District, had to resign their seats on the Commission.
Per the rules and bylaws of the County Commission, members of the body appointed replacement commissioners from a pool of applicants. Dr. Robert Acuff was selected to represent the 1st District and Bradley Johnson, an investigator with the Carter County Sheriff’s Office, was appointed to represent the 3rd District. Acuff and Johnson will fill those seats until September 1, 2016, at which time the winners of the county’s general election for those seats will take over to fulfill the remainder of the unexpired term until Sept. 1, 2018.
Both Acuff and Johnson filed their paper work and qualified to be candidates in the county’s Republican primary election. Acuff will face challenges from Robert H. “Bob” Robinson Jr. and Michael D. Warren for the 1st District nomination. Johnson will run unopposed for the 3rd District
Also appearing on the local ballot will be the position of Circuit Court Judge Part I for the 1st Judicial District, which includes Carter, Johnson, Unicoi and Washington Counties. The only candidate to qualify for the post was James Edwin Lauderback.
Voters choosing to cast ballots in the Republican Presidential preference primary will have 14 candidates to choose from, or they can select to cast their ballot as “uncommitted” or cast a write-in ballot. Candidates qualifying for the Republican Presidential primary in Tennessee are: Jeb Bush, Ben Carson, Chris Christie, Ted Cruz, Carly Fiorina, Jim Gilmore, Lindsey O. Graham, Mike Huckabee, John R. Kasich, George Pataki, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, Rick Santorum and Donald J. Trump.
Those casting ballots on the Republican ticket will also select a number of at-large and district delegates to the Republican National Convention. Delegates will appear on the ballot as either “committed to” a candidate or “uncommitted.”
Voters selecting to cast their ballots in the Democrat Presidential preference primary will have three candidates to choose from, or they can select to cast their ballot as “uncommitted” or cast a write-in ballot. Candidates qualifying for the Democratic Presidential primary in Tennessee are: Hillary Clinton, Martin J. O’Malley and Bernie Sanders.
For more information on the election or questions regarding voter registration, please contact the Carter County Election Commission at 423-542-1822 or in person at 116 Holston Avenue.

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