Submitted by the Maryville Huddlers
BLOUNT COUNTY, (January 17, 2021) – The Daily Times reported this past week that Blount County Election Commission is considering replacing 31 precinct voting sites with 10-15 “convenience” voting locations on the next election day. This change does not affect early voting. This proposal would allow voters to vote at any of the new 10-15 sites on voting day. It would save the county about $80,000 per election. See further rationale for the plan in this memo from the BC Election Commissioner. This measure is to be voted on at the next Election Commission meeting on Thursday, January 21st at 6PM (Zoom Meeting ID: 965 3037 9812). Before then, please email the Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org , write them at 383 Court St. Maryville TN 37804, or call at 865-273-5920 to provide them feedback on this proposal. Here are some talking points:
- This proposed change is being made too quickly and without public input. We urge them to slow down the process.
- Much of the data from the 2020 election that they are basing closure decisions on are skewed because of the pandemic. The pandemic pushed people towards early voting and voting by absentee ballot. And should the pandemic persist or recur, will it be safe to force more people into fewer voting sites on election day?
- Before any precincts are closed studies must be performed to ensure that no group or populations are being targeted or will be discouraged from voting. In other words, we need to ensure such a change will not suppress voter turnout.
- Request that public hearings be held so that questions, concerns and recommendations from the public can be taken into consideration. Urge them to reach out to local community leaders and residents of all local precincts slated for closure to learn more about the impact of such a decision.
- Request they re-orient their priorities. Saving money should not be done at the expense of ease of voting. To increase voter turnout, they should look at expanding days, hours and locations of early voting, and pushing the state to enact automatic and same day voter registration.
- TN remained 46th in voter turnout in the 2020 election. The last thing we need is for changes to be made that confuse and discourage voters.