Early voting begins today

Gina Bryan, deputy with the Coffee County Elections Office, shows the voting machines at the Coffee County Administrative Plaza.

The 2020 election season gets rolling today in Coffee County as residents go to the polls to pick not only their presidential candidate but who will be their next General Sessions Judge.

Coffee County residents eager to make their voices heard can go to the polls this morning as early voting starts Feb. 12 and will continue until Feb. 25 for the March primary.

There are two locations for early voting for Manchester and Tullahoma.

Manchester residents can cast their ballots be at the Coffee County Administrative Plaza in the Election Commission office at 1329 McArthur Drive from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday and 8:30 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

Tullahoma residents can cast their ballots at C.D. Stamps Community Center at 810 S. Jackson Street from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

All who vote in person, either during early voting or on Election Day, must provide a federal or Tennessee State photo ID, unless an exemption applies. Examples of photo IDs accepted include a Tennessee driver’s license, U.S passport, a state-issued non-driver’s license ID, military ID and state handgun carry permit card.

The federal primary will focus on the presidential candidate preference for both Republican and Democratic political parties. The Republican primary will also have a five page list, with two extra pages for write-ins, of delegates to elect for the Republican National Convention in August.

The primary will also have a focus on a local scale for a few vacancies to be filled as well as other local offices. The offices that will be on the primary ballot are General Sessions Judge – Part 1, District Eight County Commissioner, Assessor of Property and Road Commissioner Seat Four.

The main office vacancy on the ballot will be the seat for General Sessions Judge – Part 1. The seat became open after Judge Tim Brock passed away suddenly in November while attending a judicial conference in Reno, Nevada.

Due to the unique situation of the seat’s vacancy, in the January full commission meeting, a resolution was passed stating that whichever candidate wins the March primary will become the interim judge before being sworn in on Sept. 1. This resolution was passed due the candidates, Jason Huskey, Stacy Lynch, Greg Perry and Jess Stockwell, are all qualified to run under the Republican Party with no candidates running in the Democratic Primary or seeking the office as an independent candidate. This meant whoever won the primary would run unopposed in the general election in August. To vote for judge, voters will have to choose to vote in the Republican Primary. There is an option on the Democratic side to write-in a candidate in the judge election.

The other vacancy on the ballot is the commissioner seat for District 8. Since the resignation of former commissioner Emily Howes in July 2019, the county has failed to vote in either Tim Brown or Dr. Jeff Keele as interim commissioner in three commission meetings in six months.

During the January commission meeting, it was noted that the District 8 seat was similar to the judge’s seat where Brown and Keele both qualified to run under the Republican Party with no candidates running in opposing parties, so whoever won the primary would run unopposed in the general election. After discussion, it was decided to amend and pass the resolution for the judge’s seat to include whoever won the primary for the District 8 commissioner seat would take office and serve in an interim role until their official swearing on Sept. 1.

Other seats include Assessor of Property where Beverly Robertson will be running as the incumbent. She is running unopposed and representing the Republican Party. Robertson won the election for Assessor of Property back in 2016.

According to the Coffee County Election Commission Administrator Andy Farrar, the number of voter registrations has increased from the 2016 Presidential Election for Coffee County. Farrar said from the timeframe of December 2015 to early February 2016 there were 606 registrations while December 2019 to early February 2020 saw 668 registrations.

If residents miss out on early voting, they can go to their designated precinct on Tuesday March 3 to vote.

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