County agrees to over­see Ring­gold elec­tions, dis­cusses Elec­tion Day kinks

The Catoosa County News - - COMMENTARY - By Adam Cook

The pri­mary elec­tions didn’t go with­out hic­cups. Dur­ing the June 5 Board of Com­mis­sioner’s meet­ing, res­i­dents pointed out is­sues with vot­ing ma­chines freez­ing up and park­ing is­sues.

“The elec­tions had a lot of trou­ble with the bal­lot boxes,” said res­i­dent Ge­orge Bat­tersby. “Some of the ques­tions on the bal­lots were way too long, and when you en­larged the text, they ma­chines froze up.”

Ca­toosa County Direc­tor of Elec­tions Tonya Moore ad­mit­ted that some of the ma­chines did ex­pe­ri­ence some hic­cups when vot­ers ad­justed the size of the font.

As far as the bal­lot be­ing long, there were 10 ques­tions as well as the SPLOST por­tion, which ac­counted for the sig­nif­i­cant length.

“If you hit en­large text, it took it from a 12-page bal­lot to an 18-page bal­lot,” Moore ex­plained. “Those ma­chines are back from 2004, and they were not able to. … It’s just like a com­puter, how it’ll get stuck.

Moore said her staff was able to trou­bleshoot the prob­lems, and that no vot­ers were up­set with the process.

“No one com­plained that they needed to see the large text,” Moore said. “If it hap­pened, we would tell them to go back to the in­struc­tion screen and view the reg­u­lar text.”

Moore added that state of­fi­cials were in­formed of the sit­u­a­tion be­fore Elec­tion Day.

“The state was aware of it, and we ac­tu­ally had a state per­son come up the first day of early vot­ing when we found out there was an is­sue, and then they ex­plained to us that the is­sue was re­ally the SPLOST ques­tion,” Moore said. “There was noth­ing we could do, we just asked peo­ple not to press the large text.”

Res­i­dent Ben Scott added to the dis­cus­sion by voic­ing his con­cern with park­ing is­sues that ap­par­ently plagued the Cham­bers precinct.

Scott said that his ad­dress changed dur­ing the time be­tween the last two elec­tions, mak­ing Cham­bers his new des­ig­nated precinct.

“I found Cham­bers to be one of the most dif­fi­cult places to get in to vote after five o’clock that I’ve seen in Ca­toosa County,” Scott said. “I saw at least two peo­ple that were try­ing to get in that just drove off, and they prob­a­bly didn’t even come back to vote. Once you get in the park­ing lot, it’s a dis­as­ter try­ing to get out of there if some­body parks side­ways. I’d like to see the county do some­thing about look­ing at that to see if they can im­prove that sit­u­a­tion and make it more con­ve­nient to vote at the Cham­bers precinct.”

In re­gards to Scott’s claims, Moore said there was dis­cus­sion about pur­chas­ing an acre lot next to the Cham­bers precinct a few years ago, but that the landowner’s ask­ing price for the prop­erty was too high for the county’s lik­ing.

How­ever, she did point out that early vot­ing is al­ways an op­tion for those look­ing to avoid the Elec­tion Day crowd.

“We ask peo­ple to vote early. There’s three weeks of early vot­ing, and if you don’t want to do that, we ac­tu­ally mail you an ab­sen­tee bal­lot,” Moore said.

Ring­gold elec­tions

As was the case last year, the Board of Com­mis­sion­ers unan­i­mously ap­proved the in­ter­gov­ern­men­tal agree­ment al­low­ing Moore’s of­fice to over­see the city elec­tions in Ring­gold.

“This agree­ment in­cludes qual­i­fy­ing, col­lect­ing ethics re­ports for their elected of­fi­cials and can­di­dates in their gen­eral and spe­cial elec­tions. It’ll be an on­go­ing con­tract,” Moore said.

Moore de­scribed the smaller city elec­tions as “a breeze” com­pared to the larger fed­eral, county, and state elec­tions.

Ca­toosa County Direc­tor of Elec­tions Tonya Moore dis­cusses bal­lot and park­ing is­sues re­lated to last month’s gen­eral pri­mary elec­tion dur­ing a re­cent Board of Com­mis­sioner’s meet­ing. (Ca­toosa News photo/Adam Cook)

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