Election Battle: Patrick, Dobson At Odds Over Security

TONY STINNETT, Courier Co-Editor

The 2010 General Election is set for Nov. 2 but registered voters in Cannon County can get a head start when early voting begins in mid-October, according to Administrator of Elections Stan Dobson.

Cannon County's Election Commission held their monthly meeting Monday night at the Election Commission Office and set the dates and times for early voting.

The first of 14 dates for early voting is Oct. 13. Citizens also can take advantage of early voting on Oct. 14-16, 18-23, and 25-28.

Polls will be open from 9 a.m. until noon with the exception of Oct. 19 and 26. On those dates polls will be open from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. All early voting will take place at the Cannon County Election Commission in the Adams Office Building, 301 West Main Street.

Voters will have the opportunity to vote for several races including Governor, 6th Congressional District, 17th District State Senate and 46th District State House, as well as a petition to start a whiskey distillery on Short Mountain.

Dobson reported Cannon County has more than 8,100 registered voters, representing more than half of the estimated 14,600 residents.

In other business, Dobson outlined the election budget during the financial report. He said the primary election in August cost $13,503.87, almost $1,500 under the budgeted amount.

An additional $15,000 is budgeted for the 2010 General Election in November; however, Dobson said the cost should fall well below that figure. Much of the money is spent to pay poll workers, as well as provide in-service training for new ones.

There was discussion as to whether it was necessary to pay for a sheriff's deputy or city police officer to be on location during early voting.

"Do you think it was necessary to have the deputy at the door for what we are paying him?," Commission member Sue Patrick asked, regarding the reported $20 per hour rate.

"We had pardon (and) parole come through here, we have people going to the food bank and not knowing who was coming through and what they were doing, it is important," Dobson said. "The officer we had election night and the officers and deputies that were here doing early voting, we really didn't have any problems."

Patrick said she understood having the police representation on Election Night but not each day of early voting.

"I thought it was the best thing we have ever done," Dobson said. "We did not have problems here except for two or three that came up and the deputy caught them before they ever got started. If you don't want the deputy (for the General Election) then tell me but my personal opinion is that we keep the officer."

Commission member Matt Studd was in agreement.

"I'm in favor of an ounce of prevention is better than a pound of cure," Studd said. "Just having that uniform and officer there sometimes chases away problems before we ever knew they could be a problem."

The Election Commission also approved poll workers for the General Election, conducted the lock of the absentee ballot box, and approved new voter's registration cards.