Election Commission gets update on primary election process

Published 4:49 pm Monday, July 10, 2017

Members of the Carter County Election Commission received an update during their meeting Monday on the process the political parties follow to call for a primary election for county positions.

Administrator of Elections Tracy Harris informed the Commission she had mailed out letters to Carter County Republic Party Chairman Rusty Barnett and Democratic Party Chairwoman Kristi Carr regarding the primary process.

“Both the Republican and Democratic Party Executive Committees have the legal authority to call county primaries for offices which will be placed on the August 2, 2018, general election ballot,” the letter states.

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Each party has three options regarding a primary election, according to Harris. The party can choose to hold the county primary on May 1, 2018. The party can choose not to hold a county primary election. If the party chooses not to hold a primary, the party may choose to hold a caucus to nominate candidates for the general election.

If the party’s Executive Committee intends to hold a primary election for any or all county offices, the Committee must notify the Carter County Election Commission in writing by August 21, Harris said.

If either party calls for a primary election, the qualifying deadline for all offices included in the primary will be Feb. 15, 2018, at noon. Candidates can pick up application packets with petitions beginning Nov. 17, 2017.

In the event that neither party calls for a primary election, the qualifying deadline for all county offices in the Aug. 2, 2018, general election will be April 5, 2018, at noon.

If a party decides to nominate candidates by a caucus rather than a primary, the party’s Executive Committee must certify those candidates’ names to the Election Commission no later than the qualifying deadline for that office.

Following the update by Harris, members of the Election Commission scheduled their next meeting for Friday, Aug. 25, at 9 a.m. so they can review whether or not either the Republican or Democratic parties have called for a primary election.

In other business, Harris provided an update regarding information presented at an election law seminar she and her staff attended in June as well as progress by the state in making voter registration available online.

Previously, the State of Tennessee approved a change in election laws that allows voter registrations to be completed online.

The original target launch date for online registration was July 1, Harris said, but that date had to be pushed back due to complications. The state is currently working to correct the issues and is testing the registration system with hopes to go live in August, Harris added.

One of the benefits of online registration is the program requires those registering to completely fill out the application before it can be submitted.

“That will cut out a lot of our rejected applications and having to send mail back and forth,” Harris said. “It will be great.”