WASHINGTON COUNTY, Tenn. (WJHL) – A proposed bill in Nashville could make voting more accessible on Election Day for people in Washington County.
House Bill 937 was penned by Rep. Rebecca Alexander (R-Jonesborough), and its companion bill in the Senate, Senate Bill 839, is sponsored by Sen. Rusty Crowe (R-Johnson City).
The bill would establish a pilot program in Washington County to create voting centers. The program would allow registered voters to cast a ballot at any one of the 23 voting centers in Washington County on Election Day, as opposed to having to go to a specific precinct that has been designated for someone’s home address.
Washington County Elections Administrator Dana Jones said the change would make it easier for voters to get to the polls. She said those who work outside of standard business hours would have more accessibility to voting if they did not have to drive out of their way.
“If you get held after work, you’re not going to make it, and you have to be there by 8:00 in line to be able to vote…well, with this, this is a beautiful opportunity for our Washington County residents,” Jones said. “Because if they’re working at the Johnson City Medical Center, they can go basically a mile and a half up the road and vote at Asbury.”
To prevent voter fraud, Jones said a system will be set up to ensure security at all locations throughout the county.
“The voting machines do not connect to the internet; they cannot,” Jones said. “That’s against state law. We will connect laptops via ethernet port to a secure line from our laptops to the state server just like how we do with early voting.”
As of Monday, eight counties have implemented voting centers. If the bill makes it past the General Assembly, changes to voting on Election Day could be seen next election year.
The Senate version of the bill passed on second consideration on Feb. 6 and has been referred to the Senate State and Local Government Committee. The House version has been assigned to the Elections & Campaign Finance Subcommittee.