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No plans yet to change any election dates

J. H. Osborne • Apr 5, 2020 at 9:30 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — If community spread of COVID-19, the novel coronavirus, continues in the months ahead, election officials expect an increase in the number of people seeking to absentee vote by mail.

“Absentee by-mail voting information is available on our website,” Sullivan County Administrator of Elections Jason Booher said. “We do anticipate an increase in the number of voters who may choose to vote by mail if community spread of the virus is still prevalent in the months to come. Under current state law, any voter who is over the age of 60, has a disability or illness, or is caring for someone who is disabled or ill may vote by mail.”

As administrator of elections, Booher is serving on a committee comprised of a select number of state and county election officials working on behalf of the entire state to develop the resources, legal framework, and precautions necessary to hold an election.

“We understand the need to ensure the health and safety of both voters and election officials,” Booher said. “We do not know if community spread of this virus will continue past July; however, we will prepare as if it will. At the appropriate time, we will share with the public any changes and safeguards that will be implemented to safely and accurately conduct an election. At this point, I am not aware of any plans to change any deadlines or election dates; however, if that decision is made, it will be by either government officials at the state or federal level.”

Booher said he wants to share his staff’s appreciation and support for the citizens of Sullivan County.

“They are our customers and we are here to serve them,” Booher said. “We appreciate the citizens who serve their communities as election officials. We appreciate the first responders, health care workers, and others throughout our community that are on the frontlines providing aid and support. These are trying times for everyone; however, we are dedicated to upholding our mission of conducting accurate, fair, and honest elections in a manner that exceeds expectations.”

Booher said members of the public with questions should first look at the Sullivan County Election Commission’s website at www.scelect.org, but they shouldn’t hesitate to contact his office by other means.

“Do not be misled by the alarming level of misinformation,” Booher said. “Our office remains open; however, out of concern for the health and welfare of all our citizens, we would encourage you to call or email first. There are very few issues or matters that cannot be resolved online or by email, phone, or mail at this time. We will keep our citizens in our thoughts and prayers.”

The next upcoming Election Day is Aug. 6, which includes party primaries for state and federal offices on the ballot in November, and for some county offices, including four seats on the Sullivan County Board of Education.

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