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Early voting in Farragut could be nixed, KCEC says


A request by the Knox County Election Commission to use Town Hall’s community room for early voting for county seats didn’t seem to be well received by the Farragut Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

“We ask that this body make this site a permanent site for early voting,” said Chris Heagerty of the KCEC at the May 27 FBMA meeting. “It’s advantageous for the people of this county to know where they’re voting each year.”


Heagerty also held that it is more costly not having a permanent early voting site each year.

“It costs more money … money that could be spent on something else,” he said.

The KCEC currently has three permanent early voting sites — Knoxville Center, I-75 Expo Center on Clinton Highway and the old Knox County Courthouse.

In recent months, the FBMA voted to turn down a request by Knox County to use the Town Hall for early voting purposes. The board then contended that the community room was already booked.

“That room is quite busy and booked,” said Sue Stuhl, leisure services director for the town.

“It’s not a room that is vacant,” said Alderman Connie Rutenber.

Stuhl said the room is primarily used for various classes and community events.

Heagerty said early voters would be inconvenienced if there were not a location at Town Hall. He stated that more than 50 percent of residents in Farragut and Concord vote early.

“That’s a lot of people you will inconvenience,” Heagerty said.

Mayor Eddy Ford said the FBMA would consider the KCEC’s request to use the community room, but the commission might want to look into using the Knox County offices on the second floor of Town Hall for a future early voting location. The county’s lease on that space expires in two years, he added.

Heagerty said the KCEC had talked to the administration at Farragut High School about holding early voting there, but he thought that might be too much of a security risk for the students and faculty.

“Anytime you introduce a large group of people that the school administration is not familiar, with it’s a security risk,” he said.

According to Heagerty, the number of early voters in West Knox County continues to increase. Between 50 and 60 percent of registered voters out west vote early, he added.

“The original site was at Suburban Center, but it just got so big … people were asked to wait and wait,” he said.

Heagerty said the main purpose of his visit was to “open the lines of communication” and “ask for the town’s cooperation.”

“Another thing we have to look at is not having early voting out here,” he said. “I don’t want that to happen.”

There was no indication of when the FBMA would put the item on its agenda. Early voting for county seats is July 16-31.

 

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