Election ponderings

Sandra ClarkLet's Talk

I like Knox County’s new voting system and think you will too. Never did like that forward/backward spinning dial.


Saturday, by the way, is the last day to vote early. It’s highly recommended. Find times and locations here.

Chris Davis

Chris Davis, administrator of elections, says response has been positive to the new system.

After checking in, each voter is given a paper ballot. After voting, you run the ballot through a scanner. It doesn’t come out.

That scanner could become a real bottleneck on election day, so I asked Davis if he will send more than one to each polling place.

The answer is no, but if there’s a bottleneck it won’t be at the scanner.

“One scanner at each place,” said Davis. “We have trained and cautioned our officers to only let in the amount of people that social distancing will allow.” He expects lines, if any, to form outside the voting site rather than inside.

The scanner records the votes. The election officer in charge of the polling place will post the results from the end-of-night tally tape on the wall or door – just like with the old system.

Back at the election commission office, the results will be compiled and posted online.

Deborah Tidwell

Deborah Tidwell, a resident of Gibbs and eight-year election veteran, was hired June 1 as assistant administrator, the position Davis held before his predecessor, Cliff Rodgers, retired.

Davis said he and Tidwell are working to manage the process while dealing with COVID-19 and implementing a new system.

Knox County votes Republican most times, and I don’t see any countywide upsets looming.

County commission races have been low-key, with the exception of District 2 where Courtney Durrett (D) is working hard to beat Grant Rosenberg (R). Both are newcomers and the district has elected both Rs and Ds. The current commissioner is Michele Carringer (R).

Republican Primary voters will choose between big-spenders Manny Sethi and Bill Hagerty for U.S. Senate. The other 10 or so candidates will be lucky to get 10% – combined.

Here’s what we will know next Friday:

  • Can Eddie Mannis (District 18) win a Republican Primary? And if not, what’s his future in politics?
  • Can a mailer-a-day bring gravitas to Michele Carringer’s claim to be the “true conservative” in District 16, or will voters realize they actually know (and like) Patti Bounds?
  • Can Rick Staples (District 15) battle off challengers Sam McKenzie and Matthew Park, or will Rick run third? Traditional wisdom is that an incumbent like Staples is better off with two or more challengers than just one strong opponent. But Rick could be the Marshall Stair of the 2020 election cycle – squeezed out by opponents with more passionate support. Park owns the loony left, while McKenzie is adored by the more formal older set.

Sandra Clark, editor/CEO of Knox TN Today, writes this opinion column each Friday (and sometimes every day).

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