Hamilton County Getting New $2 Million Voting Machines; Jerry Summers Honored

  • Monday, February 27, 2023
From left are Senator Bo Watson, Rep. Greg Martin, Election Commissioners Chris Clem and Jerry Summers, Rep. Yusuf Hakeem and Election Commissioners Secondra Meadows and Mike Walden
From left are Senator Bo Watson, Rep. Greg Martin, Election Commissioners Chris Clem and Jerry Summers, Rep. Yusuf Hakeem and Election Commissioners Secondra Meadows and Mike Walden

Hamilton County will be getting new voting machines - estimated to cost around $2 million - members of the Election Commission were told on Monday morning.

Election Commission members said they want to stay with the current system in which voters mark their choices on paper ballots.

Scott Allen, election administrator, said the current machines are nine years old and near the end of their projected life.

He also said the current system does not meet a requirement of having 100 percent paper ballots. He said, "We are at 99 percent, but not with the handicapped voters."

Mr. Allen said there are five approved vendors in Tennessee, and his office will be getting demonstrations from them. The first will be March 29.

He said there will be a process of requests for proposals.

The new system is to be in place by the next election in March 2024. There are no elections this year.

Mike Walden, Election Commission chairman, noted that the county is required to pay for the equipment, but does not have say-so over which company will be hired.

He said the new system needs to be installed "sooner rather than later" so it will be fully ready for the next voting.

Also, Mr. Allen said the projected cost of a new section of parking at the election office is $341,000, plus $100,000 for lighting and other items. His office is budgeting $450,000.

Officials said earlier that when there are large numbers of voters at the site off Amnicola Highway there is not enough space on the paved lot. They said cars and trucks spill over into nearby grassy areas and sometimes get stuck when there are muddy conditions.

The addition will provide 90 more parking spaces.

Mr. Allen said one issue is that the railroad has an easement across part of the site. That is being discussed with the railroad.

At the start of the meeting, state legislators paid tribute to longtime Election Commission member Jerry Summers.

The well-known attorney was the lawyer for the election office prior to going on the panel.

Rep. Yusuf Hakeem read a resolution honoring attorney Summers. It had been passed by the state House and Senate. Attending also were Rep. Greg Martin and Senator Bo Watson.

Jerry Summers, left, listens as Rep. Yusuf Hakeem reads resolution in his honor
Jerry Summers, left, listens as Rep. Yusuf Hakeem reads resolution in his honor
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