Hill Appointed Cannon Co. Election Commissioner
KEVIN HALPERN, Courier Co-Editor
Monday, August 13, 2012 3:37 am
The vacancy on the Cannon County Election Commission was filled today.
The State Election Commission appointed James W. Hill of Woodbury to the five-member board.
Cannon County had been one election commissioner short since Lindbergh Dennis resigned on July 22.
"I would hope I can bring a little integrity back to the commission," Hill said when contacted. "I hope I can be fair to all, Democrat and Republican.
Hill, a Republican, joins fellow Republicans Matt Studd and Corey Davenport on the commission. Democrats serving are Sue Patrick and Jackie Gannon.
The commission is scheduled to hold its next meeting on Aug. 20.
Because Republicans hold the majority in the Tennessee General Assembly, the new member was expected to be appointed asrepresentative of that party.
State Senator Mae Beavers (R-Mt. Juliet), who along with Rep. Mark Pody (R-Lebanon) make recommendations on apppointees, said the State Election Commission will select the new member from resumes that have been submitted.
Tennessee statutes require election commissions to employ an administrator of elections, who is the chief administrative officer of the commission and who is responsible for daily operations of the office.
The county election commission is charged with the general duty of encouraging wider participation in the electoral process. Except in counties whose population falls between 825,000 and 830,000, where the organization is slightly different, these duties involve the selection of the administrator of elections and then assistance with the following responsibilities of that office: approving an annual budget for the commission, approving purchases of voting machines and seeing to their maintenance, hiring legal counsel, designating polling places and precinct boundaries, and assisting in obtaining poll workers.
Additionally, the commission must ensure the fairness and smooth functioning of elections by certifying voting machines, taking responsibility for absentee ballot boxes, assisting election personnel on election day, certifying election results and election expenses, determining a uniform time for the opening of polls, and maintaining the security of the election commission office and facilities.
The basic unit that regulates elections at the county level is the county election commission. The five commissioners for each county are appointed by the state election commission; three must be members of the majority party in the state, appointed by members of the state election commission from that party, while the other two will be of the minority party, similarly appointed by the minority members of the state election commission.
Majority and minority parties are defined as the political parties whose members hold the largest and second largest number of seats in the combined houses of the General Assembly. Before appointing county election commissioners, members of the state election commission are directed to consult with members of the General Assembly from each county regarding whom to appoint as county election commissioners.
County election commissioners must be registered voters who have been residents of the state for five years and residents of the county for which they are appointed for two years (with an exception for counties with a population between 276,000 and 277,000).
Elected officials, employees of elected officials and employees of a state, county, municipal, or federal government body or agency are not eligible to serve on the election commission. (T.C.A. § 2-12-102.) However, this statute does not disqualify the following people: a notary public, an employee of an institution of higher learning, a school teacher or a member of a reserve unit of the U. S. armed services or National Guard, unless on active duty. (T.C.A. § 2-1- 112.) If a commissioner qualifies as a candidate for any public office, that member will be automatically disqualified and a vacancy will be created on the commission. (T.C.A. § 2-12-102.)
A minimum compensation for members of the county election commission is specified by statute and varies according to the population of the county. These amounts may be increased in any county by resolution of the county legislative body. In order to trigger the daily rate, a commissioner must work at least one hour in any given 24 hour period, but payment is made for meetings lasting less than one hour if they are required by statute, budget preparation, or litigation. (T.C.A. § 2-12-108.)
The funding of each county election commission is the responsibility of that county which, if not provided for, will be compelled by the chancery court. However, each municipality is responsible for expenses the county election commission incurs in holding municipal elections, and for the additional expenses attributable to the municipal election when it is held on the same day as a countywide election.
Similarly, elections for the sole purpose of choosing a member of the General Assembly are to be funded by the state, as are presidential preference primaries. The state will also fund county primaries that are held along with the presidential primary. All expenses must be properly reviewed and certified in order to be paid. (T.C.A. § 2-12-109.)