Two Sumner County churches have agreed to offer their facilities for early voting locations in 2020, according to Sumner County Administrator of Elections Lori Atchley.
Both Freedom Church in Gallatin near Vietnam Veterans Boulevard and the Hendersonville Church of Christ near West Main Street will be used for early voting precincts for all three elections in the coming year.
Atchley said her office had been scouting out locations for several months following elections in 2018.
“People were parking and driving on the sidewalks during early voting here at the Sumner County Administration Building,” she said. “It was getting dangerous and the people who were coming here for other business like paying their car taxes were having trouble getting in. We had just outgrown this location.”
Atchley said that early voting at the Hendersonville Public Library wasn’t much better.
“The library was so dangerous to get in and out of, the two off-duty police officers we hired to help direct traffic said they weren’t coming back,” she said. “We had to find another solution.”
Atchley said she told Hendersonville City Attorney John Bradley of her dilemma and he suggested the Church of Christ location.
Early voting will be held in the strip center owned by the church next to the main sanctuary, she said.
“There are multiple ways to get in and out of the parking lot, and it’s a location everyone knows being across from the post office,” Atchley added. Freedom Church is equally accessible, she noted.
Atchley says her office wants to get the word out early that early voting won’t be offered at the Sumner County Administration Building. She knows old habits die hard.
“We still have people who come up here to vote on Election Day and the Sumner County Administration Building hasn’t been an Election Day precinct since 2012,” she said.
A countywide mailer is scheduled to go out in January informing voters of the new early voting precincts – a cost that wasn’t budgeted for in the current fiscal year.
“I think it’s a good use of the money because people need to be aware of this,” Atchley added.
The early voting satellite locations in Goodlettsville, Portland, White House and Westmoreland won’t change. Voters can vote at any of the locations during early voting, but must still vote at their designated precinct on Election Day.
The three elections in Sumner County in 2020 will include the March 3 presidential and Sumner County primary; the Aug. 6 federal and state primary and the Sumner County general election; and the Nov. 3 federal and state general and municipal elections.
Early voting for the March 3 primaries runs from Wednesday, Feb. 12 through Tuesday, Feb. 25. Atchley noted that both the Sumner County Democratic Party and the Sumner County Republican Party have called for primaries. The only county office on the ballot in March is the primary race for Sumner County Assessor of Property. So far incumbent John Isbell does not face a Republican or a Democrat opponent. The deadline to qualify as a candidate in that race is Dec. 12.
Atchley said there’s a reason the assessor’s position isn’t on the ballot with other county offices.
“Constitutionally in Tennessee the assessor of property and the trustee can not run on the same ballot,” she said.
In 2016, 33,070 Sumner County voters - 32 percent of those registered - cast ballots in the March primary.
For more information about early voting precincts and the hours of operation, go to the Sumner County Election Office website at www. votesumnertn.org.