ROGERSVILLE — The Hawkins Co. Election Commission said goodbye to retiring Commissioner Nancy Heck and welcomed newly appointed Commissioner Nancy Point during the board’s April 10, 2017 meeting.
Heck, a former Commission Chairman who had been a member of the board since 2013, thanked her fellow commissioners and Administrator of Elections Donna Sharp after accepting a plaque presented to her in thanks for her service to the commission and the people of Hawkins County.
Point, a long-time real estate appraiser who recently ended a term on the state Real Estate Appraisal Commission, is married to Rogersville attorney Jim Point. They are the parents of three children and five grandchildren. She also is active in Republican politics.
Sharp said the members of local election commissions are appointed by the State Election Commission, whose members are, in turn, appointed by the State Legislature.
She noted that the political party that holds the majority of seats in the legislature appoints the majority (four members) of the State Election Commission.
Since 2008, Sharp explained, the Republican Party has held the majority of seats in the legislature and, as a result, has been able to appoint a simple majority (four members) of the State Election Commission. The Democratic Party appoints the remaining three members of the SEC.
The same format is used by the SEC to appoint members of the Hawkins Co. Election Commission. Republicans are appointed to three of the five local election commission seats and Democrats are appointed to the remaining two seats, according to Sharp.
Currently, the Republican members of the local Election Commission are: Joyce Simon, Ralph Trent and (newly appointed) Nancy Point. The Democrats on the board are: Teresa Greer and Judy Woods Trent.
During the Monday afternoon meeting, current Chairman Joyce Simon and current Secretary Teresa Greer were re-elected to those posts. Both will hold the positions for the next two years.
In other action during the meeting, the board approved the Commission’s 2017- 18 budget after a short discussion.
Old voting machines
Sharp told the commission that it is no longer possible to sell Hawkins County’s remaining old voting machines because state officials have begun giving away similar machines.
She noted that she sold a number of the old voting machines last year to other counties. But now, with the machines being given away in other parts of the states, giving away the remaining machines seems the only course left for disposing of them, Sharp told the board on Monday afternoon.
Sharp said she has pending plans to give some of the remaining machines to Williamson County and the rest of the old machines to Greene County. She noted that she has received state approval to dispose of the old machines. She also said the County Commission has already approved disposing of the old machines. But Sharp said Martha Wallace, of the county mayor’s staff, is currently checking with the county’s auditor to ensure that it is okay to give the old voting machines to the two other counties.
Inactivating, purging voters
Sharp also said that state election officials have told local election commissions not to carry out 2017 voter list “maintenance program.” That program, she explained, was a routine process under which registered voters who have not voted in recent elections were declared “inactive” and subsequently purged from voter roles.
But Sharp noted that a justice of the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals, in a recent ruling, has put on hold inactivation of voters for failing to vote recently and related “purging” of voter roles.
But Sharp said voters convicted of felony crimes and those found to have registered in another county or state may still be purged from the local voter roles.
Sharp also told commissioners on Monday that as far as she knows, no one was turned away from voting during last November’s Presidential Election here. But she noted that 194 “provisional” ballots were cast in Hawkins County during the November election.
“I think we broke a record,” Sharp said of the high number of provisional ballots.
Sharp also told the Election Commissioners that on-line voter registration is coming to Tennessee later this year. State election officials are expected to share in-depth information on the new registration program during a seminar for local election officials in Nashville later this year.