The Henry County Election Commission voted Monday afternoon to make it official and reduce the number of voting precincts in the county from 13 to 10.
DeLaina Green, county administrator of elections, said the pandemic and growing safety and accessibility concerns are some of the reasons why the commission had to make the change.
She said all 10 precincts — two in each of the five county voting districts— must have hard-wire access for computers and the internet, as well as enough space to conduct elections, security and handicapped accessibility. The former precincts didn’t meet these requirements.
The 10 precincts will be Harrelson School and Cottage Grove Baptist Church (which now has been hard-wired) in the 1st District, Henry School and New Harmony Baptist Church in the 2nd District, Lakewood School and the community center inside the Paris Landing Emergency Complex (the volunteer fire department is extending its hard-wire access to the area where voting will take place) in the 3rd District, Grove School and the Central Community Service Center in the 4th District, and Henry County High School and the Tennessee College of Applied Technology in the 5th District.
These are the same 10 precincts proposed during a June commission meeting. The concept of “voting centers” — where county residents could vote at any of the centers — is still at least three years away, Green said.
She added that she’s seen the county’s preliminary census figures for redistricting, which won’t move any of these voting precincts into a different county district.
In a related vote, the commission approved the vocational school precinct site as a separate, satellite location for early voting by next August’s state and federal primaries and state and county general elections, then for November’s state and federal general elections. That means people could vote early at the Election Commission office or at TCAT.
If everything can be purchased and set up in time, it also could be used for the May state and county primaries.
In other business:
• Green talked about potential uses for a $25,000 grant received to improve physical and online security for the election office and its elections.
The commissioners decided to make the only state-approved computer firewall system, estimated to cost $12,000, its top priority, followed by six security cameras at the election office, an alarm system and a backup generator. Green will gather bids on the last three items.
• At Green’s suggestion, the commission voted to no longer require citizens to give advance notice that they want to speak at regularly scheduled commission meetings.