Early voting starts Friday, Hamilton County looking to add more poll workers

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HAMILTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WDEF) – Preparations for early voting were going on at the polling place in the Hamilton County Elections Commission Office Thursday.

Preparing has been a process that includes making the environment safe from the coronavirus.

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“The first thing voters will notice when the arrive at a polling place are the 6 foot spacing,” Hamilton County Administrator of Elections Kerry Steelman said.

Steelman said that during any given election they have around 900 poll workers for early voting and election day.

But because of the pandemic, this time has been different.

“To be prepared for instances where a, a poll worker may not show up either they’re sick or have an emergency situation we always have a bank of poll workers that we can draw from, but certainly the COVID-19 pandemic is making that increasing difficult as more and more of our veteran, poll workers are opting not to work,” he said.

Steelman said the average poll worker age is 70 years old.

That puts several poll workers into the age range that can be considered high-risk for severe illness.

“Certainly that is one reason we’re seeing some of our numbers fall off with our poll workers, but the vast majority are recognizing the extraordinary measures that we’re taking to provide them a safe environment and are continuing to express a willingness to work,” Steelman said.

He said they’re always looking for poll workers and encourages those considering to become one to think objectively.

There is really no guarantee you’ll stay safe just about anywhere you go, but he said they are making efforts to mitigate the spread.

“Massive amounts of personal protective equipment that we have including but not limited to face masks and face shields to hand sanitizer to sanitizing equipment that we’ll be using to clean the faculty through out the day we are purchasing disposable pens and ballot secrecy folders so they’ll only be touched by one voter before they are disposed of,” Steelman said.

If you’re interested in becoming a poll worker, you can fill out an application online.

One thing to note is that though Hamilton County is under a mask mandate, polls are an exception.

So while workers will be taking protective measures, voters are not required to wear a mask in order to vote.

Early voting and mask wearing are encouraged.

Early voting is from July 17th to August 1st.

Early voting locations and times:

  • Brainerd Rec Center

1010 North Moore Rd

Monday thru Friday, 10:00am – 6:00pm

Saturday, 10:00am – 4:00pm

  • Collegedale City Hall

4910 Swinyar Drive

Monday thru Friday, 10:00am – 6:00pm

Saturday, 10:00am – 4:00pm

  • Election Commission

700 River Terminal Rd

Monday thru Friday, 8:00am – 7:00pm

Saturday, 10:00am – 4:00pm

  • Hixson Community Center

5401 School Drive

Monday thru Friday, 10:00am – 6:00pm

Saturday, 10:00am – 4:00pm

 

The absentee ballot application deadline is July 30th.

Election day is August 6th.