The Coffee County Elections Commission welcomed a new administrator of elections following former administrator’s Vernita Davis’s retirement. Andy Farrar was hired in November and began training with Davis in December. He applied and was hired first after the election commission held and illegal ballot, something they rectified shortly after. Farrar received unanimous approval from the commission.
Prior to becoming the administrator, Farrar was the county’s purchasing agent. He worked with department heads and elected officials on a daily basis and worked with the election commission for eight years. Before that, he spent 15 years with Aramark Uniform Services, 11 of them as a district manager in Shelbyville and the last two in Nashville.
“When I was at Aramark, I just always wanted to better myself,” Farrar said. That mentality, and the Nashville traffic, drove Farrar to change his career to become the county’s purchasing agent. When Vernita announced her retirement, Farrar believed the position would be a good opportunity to advanced himself, to learn new things and to uphold the office’s reputation.
“This office has always run professionally and ethically,” he said.
To uphold the reputation, Farrar is looking to build upon what Davis started – he attended a vendor fair in Nashville and learned five vendors supply voting equipment nationwide and, thanks to Davis and the state of Tennessee, Coffee County had the most up-to-date voting equipment.
To continue this turned, he is researching the functionality of implementing an electronic poll book. Currently, the county uses a paper book, which requires the election workers to write down names of those who voted, which are then manually entered into the county’s database. The new system, in theory, would make the process more efficient and quicker.
Farrar also wants to update the office’s servers and computer, which are 7-8 years old.
He also wants to improve voter turnout.
“Every vote is important,” Farrar said. “If you’re not registered to vote, get registered. It’s important so we have strong, effective leaders not only locally, but in the state and federal government.
“Coffee County has a low voter turnout – if there is anything that the community sees to better the election process or anything is deterring them (from voting), call me, call the office and lets us know,” he added.
In the next six months, Farrar will be working toward learning election laws and preparing for the Tullahoma aldermen election in August.
During off years, such as 2019, he still has plenty of work to do. Daily operations consist of processing voter registrations, gathering and sending reports to the state, preparing information for upcoming elections, receiving and processing reports from the Department of Motor Vehicles and more.
Last year, county election officials handled 8,821 registrations, which includes new registrations and updating information.
He and the staff are beginning the process of purging their voter database. Anyone who has not voted in the past two federal elections will be notified by mail they need to renew their registration.
“A lot of people ask me ‘what do you do when there’s not an election?’…There is more than enough work to keep this office busy,” Farrar said.
Farrar is also taking the time “off” to learn the processes and election laws to obtain his administration certification. He thanked Davis for not retiring during a busy election year, so he can get his feet under him before jumping in.
He also extended his thanks to his staff, who have been instrumental in helping him learn and to the election commission for giving him this opportunity.
“The people in your office ae going to make you succeed and I believe they have the knowledge to help me be as successful as Connie and Vernita were,” he said in reference to the past administrators.
Farrar lives in the New Union community with his wife Amy and his sons Garrett and Ethan. Garrett is a senior at Coffee County Central High School and Ethan attends Coffee Middle School.