Poll Watcher Banned

In what could only be described as a sign of the tenseness in the Lenoir City election, Loudon County Election Administrator, Susan Harrison, informed members of the Loudon County Election Commission at Tuesday's scheduled meeting that a poll watcher has been banned from the polls.

According to Ms. Harrison, a poll watcher has banned from returning to the polls after being involved in a verbal altercation with profanity. The poll watcher, Ms. Stella McCown had been retained as a poll watcher by Lenoir City mayoral candidate Tony Aikens.

According to Ms. Harrison the altercation with the voter took place inside the Lenoir City early voting location and was heard by several of the poll workers and at least two other voters. Ms. Harrison further stated that she had contacted the voters who overheard the argument and apologized to them for the incident.

Also discussed at the meeting was that the election commission had offered the Lenoir City poll officer, Ann Mckee, the option to move to the Loudon poll if she was uncomfortable at Lenoir City. But apparently earlier in the day Lenoir City poll workers had received word that Ms. Mckee was to be moved to Loudon. A number of Lenoir City poll workers were in attendance at the meeting to show support for keeping Ms. Mckee in Lenoir City. Ultimately, the commission voted to keep Ms. Mckee at Lenoir City.

It was never made clear at the meeting whether the two issues were in any way connected. But it was mentioned several times that someone had contacted Nashville and that Nashville had contacted the local election administrator pertaining to one or possibly both issues. It was also mentioned that State Representative Dennis Ferguson had also contacted the local election commission office about one or possibly both issues. 

Some of you may not be failure with what exactly a poll watcher is. A poll watcher is someone who is hired or retained by a candidate to sit in at voting polls to watch the voting process to be sure that there are no irregularities. Poll watchers may also question a voter's right to vote if they have evidence that the voter is not qualified to participate in a particular election.

Eight days left to early vote.

Below is the Tennessee law pertaining to poll watchers.

TCA 2-7-104. Poll watchers

(b)......each candidate in a general election may appoint one (1) or more poll watchers for each polling place; provided, however, at any given time, each such candidate shall have not more than one (1) such poll watcher on duty at each polling place.

(c)  Upon arrival at the polling place, a watcher shall display such watcher's appointment to the officer of elections and sign the register of watchers. Poll watchers may be present during all proceedings at the polling place governed by this chapter. They may watch and inspect the performance in and around the polling place of all duties under this title. A watcher may, through the judges, challenge any person who offers to vote in the election. A watcher may also inspect all ballots while being called and counted and all tally sheets and poll lists during preparation and certification. A poll watcher who wishes to protest any aspect of the conduct of the election shall present such protest to the officer of elections or to the county election commission or to an inspector. The officer of elections or county election commission shall rule promptly upon the presentation of any protest and take any necessary corrective action.

(d)  No watcher may interfere with any voter in the preparation or casting of such voter's ballot or prevent the election officials' performance of their duties. No watcher may observe the giving of assistance in voting to a voter who is entitled to assistance. Watchers shall wear poll watcher badges with their names and their organization's name but no campaign material advocating voting for candidates or positions on questions.