Whether we like it or not, the 2024 election season is coming up. The Bedford County Republican Party hosted elections administrator Summer Leverette at their June meeting to discuss the process and …
Whether we like it or not, the 2024 election season is coming up. The Bedford County Republican Party hosted elections administrator Summer Leverette at their June meeting to discuss the process and how the new voter machines will work.
Elections only take place in even-number years. In March 2024, there will be a presidential preference primary.
“In conjunction with it, we have the Republican county primary and the Democratic county primary because they have also called in the county primary,” Leverette, who’s been working in the elections office for almost 24 years, explained.
According to Leverette, this is the only primary where the state pays for the primary. All other primaries are paid for by the county.
August is the state and county general election. “So, everybody who wins in the county primary in March will be on that,” said Leverette. For example, Pat Marsh, who was in attendance at the meeting, will be on the ballot.
Then, there’s the big one in November—including the presidential election, and locally, the cities of Wartrace, Normandy, and Shelbyville city council.
Online voter registration
Called “OVR,” people interested can go to votetn.com. everyone who has a Tennessee driver’s license, anyone can register online, meaning you do not have to go to the election office or to the Department of Safety.
This is called a by-mail registration. This means you have to vote in person, not by mail, the first time, in order to show your ID.
Registering in person, that person can then ask for a mail-in ballot.
“And that’s getting really popular now because it’s 60 and older now. It used to be 65 and older,” said Leverette.
Every election, the request form for mail-in is verified through the signature personally by Leverette. “We have turned down applications as well as ballots. So, they are verified,” she said. An absentee county board also verifies these forms as well.
Often, they have parents doing these mail-in ballots for their children in college. They do offer a provisional voter, which is a voter who is not registered in Tennessee wanting to vote in Tennessee. They are given the option to vote with this paper provisional ballot after filling out an application to become a registered voter. However, this application is crucial to vote, otherwise, the vote is thrown out.
“There are checks and balances that we do — that I do — that are not statutes that I just do,” said Leverette.
New voting machines
All 95 counties in the state are receiving new voting machines this year. Though not all the same machines, grants were given by the state.
The 64 new machines for Bedford will still be from the current provider Microvote, an electronics manufacturer based in Indianapolis, Ind. The machines will basically work the same as previous ones, however, an extra paper ballot, which the voter will approve before submitting his or her vote, was added.
Leverette explained, “They’re called a VVAPT machine. It’s a voter-verified paper audit trail. And what that means is a white piece of paper will print out whom you voted for on this machine. Then you can verify on that paper whom you voted for. Once you verify, you can push this confirm button and the paper will roll up into the machine. So, you have verified who you voted for on this machine.”
This is so if an election has to be audited there is a confirmed paper trail. None of these machines are ever connected to the internet in order to work. “Even the computer that I program this machine from is never hooked up to the internet. It doesn’t even have a modem,” said Leverette.
The physical results of a vote are then locked up for 22 months and only accessible through a judge’s order.
Some 54 counties in Tennessee use Microvote’s technology. According to Danny Robbins, who sits on Bedford’s Election Committee, said, “They’re by far the easiest to do business with and their response is unbelievable.”
The election office will receive these new machines this fall and begin training on them. “We’re excited,” said Leverette.