Officials work to make election day smooth

By Megan R. Harrell
STAR STAFF
mharrell@starhq.com

  
Thousands of Carter Countians will flock to voting polls today to take part in the democratic process. While members of the community enjoy a user friendly voting system, few realize the hours of preparation that make the system work.
   The Carter County Election Commission has been preparing for the election for days. All of the voting booths were prepared last Friday and equipped to run. The commission also had poll books for each precinct completed at the end of last week.
   "We have pretty much done it all. We are just waiting for the officers to come by," Carter County Administrator of Election, Tracy Harris said.
   Election officials spent the day yesterday picking up their ballot boxes and batteries from the Election Commission's office. Officials were sworn in by the commission at the time they picked up the boxes. Some officials put up their election boxes last night, but most voting precincts were put together early this morning.
   This year is Kenneth Rainbolt's first as election officer, and he worked last night to prepare his precinct at T.A. Dugger Jr. High. Rainbolt will be overseeing eight other election workers throughout the day. "We are all going to work together and try to make things run as smooth as we can," Rainbolt said.
   Rainbolt also has the responsibility of making sure candidates and voters are following the law. "If anything comes up it is my responsibility to try and correct it," Rainbolt said.
   Other election workers include two machine operators, three judges, and two recorders. The election workers are usually volunteers in the community, and are necessary in order to ensure voter accuracy.
   Workers put in over 12 hours on election day. After being sworn in, they are not permitted to leave the premises until the polls are closed, and many of them bring their own meals and drinks from home.
   Election workers jobs are not finished when the polls close. They stay afterward to shut down the boxes. The cartridges are removed from the boxes, sealed in envelopes, then taken to the Election Commission where they are counted.
   Workers noted it takes time to properly shut down all four booths at each precinct.
   Polls are open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. at 21 precincts across Carter County today. Those interested in avoiding lines may want to vote in the morning. "In the evenings when people start getting off work it gets really busy because they stop by to vote," Harris said.
   Harris reminds voters in the Midway 1st District their precinct has moved to the Poplar Grove Baptist Church fellowship hall. She also reminded voters in the 8th District, voting at Harold McCormick High School, that they will be voting in the gym. Voters should park at the back of the building.