Election Commission mulls extending voting hours

MADISON COUNTY, Tenn. — Early voting times became a debated topic during Thursday’s Board of Election meeting.

The Madison County Election Commission discussed whether or not early voting hours would be extended.

Several people attended the meeting to give their input before commissioners voted. One group provided information that Madison County is one of the only counties that does not provide times to vote outside of normal working hours.

“It’s been brought before by myself and other commissioners to just not even change, but adjust. And that would not cost any more money, any more staffing. Just to have people to be able to have time to get off work and to vote,” said Wendy Trice Martin, a Commissioner on the Madison County Election Commission.

One of the main arguments for voting against extending the hours, referenced Tennessee State Code 2-1-106. This states that any person entitled to vote in an election held in this state may be absent from any service or employment on the day of the election for a reasonable period of time, not to exceed three hours, necessary to vote during the time the polls are open in the county where the person is a resident.

Some commissioners did not believe this resolved the issue.

“And there’s always that argument that your employer is to supposed to let you off. That is not always the case. But if you go and say I’ve got to vote and they tell you no, what are you going to do? Choose voting or putting food in your babies, or turning the lights on when you got to have a job? You shouldn’t have to decide to be able to choose between the necessities of life and a vote,” Martin said.

“Locally, at that time, set these hours. And Republicans are fine with these hours. We feel like it’s an adequate time, especially since so many people offer rides to the polls. We do have absentee with ballots, excuse me, absentee with voting for those who are going to be out of town,” said a Madison County resident.

A motion was passed to keep early voting hours the same with a decision of three to two.

This was not the first time the election commission rejected to extend early voting hours.

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