Rep. Favors, local Democrats offer solutions to voting problems - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Rep. Favors, local Democrats offer solutions to voting problems

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- State Rep. JoAnne Favors and the chairman of the Hamilton County Democratic Party made a presentation to the Election Commission, outlining numerous problems with recent voting and ideas for how to solve the issues.

"Election workers at polling sites had no online access to the voter data base and were unable to easily determine appropriate polling sites for many voters who had come to the wrong site," Rep Favors noted. "There were several instances of family members living in the same household, yet being assigned to vote at different voting precincts."

Among the issues the group brought up were voter confusion on where to vote, with a number of longtime voting precincts being closed and no signs posted directing voters to the new locations, incorrect ballots being used at the Brainerd High School voting center, where multiple precincts were combined, and problems with malfunctioning voting machines in the Alton Park precincts.

"Thousands of citizens had registered up to two months prior to the election, but registration cards were not mailed out until two days after early voting had begun and many newly registered voters never received cards," the group, which included Hamilton County Democratic Party Chairman Paul Smith, told the commission.

Smith presented a list of recommendations that the group felt should be adopted before the next voting cycle, which included:

  • An updated training manual for poll workers that would be reviewed by representatives of both Republican and Democratic political parties. This manual would be required at each polling place for reference.
  • A printed diagram of each polling station, available to voters to identify access, voting areas, and designated poll watchers zones.
  • Information worker at the door of each polling place who can check photo IDs and direct voters to correct precinct voting line or polling places.
  • Large freestanding signs clearly indicating lines for each precinct; also alphabetical name divisions within the precinct.
  • Dedicated phone lines and election officials on election days to address both individual voting issues and general issues between poll workers, poll watchers and election officials.
  • Separate polling places for ballots with different races.

"The Election Commission was well aware of the redistricting that would occur after the 2010 Census. It was also aware that 2012 was a presidential election year," Smith said. "Yet the Commission did not take adequate measures to ensure that all eligible voters could vote. This is unacceptable, and we will continue to bring this issue to the fore so that this basic right is protected."

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