By Curtis Carden
A change could be underway for individuals who vote at the Unicoi County Intermediate School (UCIS) precinct.
Unicoi County Election Commission officials discussed the potential change of name and location for the precinct during their regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 23 at the commission office. The Unicoi County High School cafeteria has been discussed as the new destination for voters of the UCIS precinct.
Sarah Bailey, administrator of elections in Unicoi County, told commissioners that she discussed the potential change with Director of Schools John English and Dr. Chris Bogart, principal of UCHS, and both have agreed to the idea.
The issue will be addressed during the upcoming election commission meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 15, before the move is finalized.
When asked about the timeline for the move to UCHS by Chairman Thomas Reeves, Bailey added the goal is to have the new location available to the public by the 2016 primary election.
The discussion was brought up during the Nov. 23 meeting after Bailey mentioned that it would be likely that Love Chapel could be consolidated into UCIS in the coming years.
Concerns at UCIS included dim lighting inside the gym where individuals vote, limited handicapped parking and traffic congestion on Mohawk Drive and in the parking lot of the school.
This is a good idea, Reeves said. Not because were getting anything out of it. This is something that can be better for the voters and save the county money.
The issue of school being in session on an election day was also presented during the discussion. Bailey said it would be up in the air on the issue depending on how students testing dates fall by state mandates.
She added that the school would look into the possibility of allowing seniors to receive a special parking pass to park at the front of the school to help the parking lot be available to voters.
With one lunch at the high school, the idea of curtaining off half of the cafeteria was mentioned, still providing more space compared to UCIS for voters, Bailey added.
The idea, if the UCHS cafeteria becomes the new voting location, is for a worker to be positioned at UCIS to help navigate traffic to the high school for people who may not have adjusted to the new location for voting. Signs will also be posted.
There will still be some people that go there, Bailey said. It will be a change and there will be some growing pains, but I think it will be positive for the voters.