Tonya Moore

Catoosa County Director of Elections Tonya Moore discusses ballot and parking issues related to last month’s general primary election during a recent Board of Commissioner’s meeting. (Catoosa News photo/Adam Cook)

The primary elections didn’t go without hiccups. During the June 5 Board of Commissioner’s meeting, residents pointed out issues with voting machines freezing up and parking issues.

“The elections had a lot of trouble with the ballot boxes,” said resident George Battersby. “Some of the questions on the ballots were way too long, and when you enlarged the text, they machines froze up.”

Catoosa County Director of Elections Tonya Moore admitted that some of the machines did experience some hiccups when voters adjusted the size of the font.

As far as the ballot being long, there were 10 questions as well as the SPLOST portion, which accounted for the significant length.

“If you hit enlarge text, it took it from a 12-page ballot to an 18-page ballot,” Moore explained. “Those machines are back from 2004, and they were not able to. … It’s just like a computer, how it’ll get stuck.

Moore said her staff was able to troubleshoot the problems, and that no voters were upset with the process.

“No one complained that they needed to see the large text,” Moore said. “If it happened, we would tell them to go back to the instruction screen and view the regular text.”

Moore added that state officials were informed of the situation before Election Day.

“The state was aware of it, and we actually had a state person come up the first day of early voting when we found out there was an issue, and then they explained to us that the issue was really the SPLOST question,” Moore said. “There was nothing we could do, we just asked people not to press the large text.”

Resident Ben Scott added to the discussion by voicing his concern with parking issues that apparently plagued the Chambers precinct.

Scott said that his address changed during the time between the last two elections, making Chambers his new designated precinct.

“I found Chambers to be one of the most difficult places to get in to vote after five o’clock that I’ve seen in Catoosa County,” Scott said. “I saw at least two people that were trying to get in that just drove off, and they probably didn’t even come back to vote. Once you get in the parking lot, it’s a disaster trying to get out of there if somebody parks sideways. I’d like to see the county do something about looking at that to see if they can improve that situation and make it more convenient to vote at the Chambers precinct.”

In regards to Scott’s claims, Moore said there was discussion about purchasing an acre lot next to the Chambers precinct a few years ago, but that the landowner’s asking price for the property was too high for the county’s liking.

However, she did point out that early voting is always an option for those looking to avoid the Election Day crowd.

“We ask people to vote early. There’s three weeks of early voting, and if you don’t want to do that, we actually mail you an absentee ballot,” Moore said.

Ringgold elections

As was the case last year, the Board of Commissioners unanimously approved the intergovernmental agreement allowing Moore’s office to oversee the city elections in Ringgold.

“This agreement includes qualifying, collecting ethics reports for their elected officials and candidates in their general and special elections. It’ll be an ongoing contract,” Moore said.

Moore described the smaller city elections as “a breeze” compared to the larger federal, county, and state elections.

Adam Cook is a general assignment reporter and covers the Walker-Catoosa County area. He has been a reporter since 2009. He can be reached at The Catoosa County News office at 706-935-2621 and by email at acook@npco.com.