Small problems pose big headaches at Hamilton County polls

Small problems pose big headaches at Hamilton County polls

November 7th, 2012 by Yolanda Putman in News

People are lined up early this morning at the Boynton Center in the Golden Gateway as they waited to cast their votes. The center is the voting place for two downtown precincts.

People are lined up early this morning at...

Photo by Staff File Photo /Times Free Press.

People made mountains out of molehills when complaining about long lines and voting machine malfunctions at some voting sites in Hamilton County, according to the administrator of the election commission.

The voting machine at the Bethlehem Center in Alton Park did jam, but it was repaired quickly, said Charlotte Mullis-Morgan. While there were some long lines at polling places, no one was turned away from voting, although some people might have grown tired and left, she said.

County Democratic Party Chairman Paul Smith said that, along with problems at the Bethlehem Center, a voting machine at the Urban League of Greater Chattanooga on M.L. King Boulevard had to be replaced and a voting machine was not working at the Ridgedale Church of Christ for more than two hours.

Chris Brooks, co-founder of the advocacy group Chattanooga Organized for Action, said several people were turned away from voting at the East Lake Recreation Center. Poll workers told voters that they were not registered to vote, he said, but it turned out that, although they were registered, they were supposed to vote at a different precinct.

Smith said there was a different staff at the Bethlehem Center than in past elections and the room wasn't set up to allow voters to easily get through lines. About 70 people were waiting in line at the center to vote Tuesday morning, he said, and the backlog lasted about two hours until the election commission sent more staff.

Contact staff writer Yolanda Putman at yputman@timesfree or 423-757-6431.