Carter County Commission may be getting new roll call voting devices

John Thompson • Nov 6, 2019 at 9:33 PM

ELIZABETHTON _ The electronic voting system used by the Carter County Commission may be in for an upgrade if the commission accepts the recommendation of its Budget Committee.

The county uses a voting system by RollCall Pro. The upgrade was demonstrated to the Rules and By-Laws Committee on Tuesday. After a demonstration of the upgraded system, that committee voted to recommend to the Budget Committee a three-year subscription at a total cost of $9,190, which will include the upgrades. The county would then receive an additional two-year subscription at no additional cost.

The upgraded system would include the ability for commissioners to use their smart devices to cast their votes. Using a smart device will allow the commissioners to see what their vote is on the device as it is cast. Some commissioners have had trouble in past votes in knowing whether they are casting an “aye” or a “nay” vote. The new system will also allow a commissioner to make a change prior to the vote being confirmed.

The upgrade would also allow a message on the vote screen that would display the wording of the motion being considered. That could eliminate confusion at voting time.

The Budget Committee voted 7-1 to recommend the upgrade. Commissioner Willie Campbell cast the dissenting vote.

The committee also voted unanimously to recommend a new service that would archive all county messages, including emails. The system would include an immediate mirrored cloud storage of all messages archived.

The committee members were told the emails and other records archived would be admissible in court because the messages could not be manipulated locally.

The cost of the archival system is $9,964.82.

The committee also heard from Carter County Sheriff’s Department Chief Deputy James Parrish on a lease-purchase proposal that would allow the department to acquire seven new fully equipped Dodge Chargers. These cars would allow the department to take seven old Ford Crown Victorias out of service. Some of the department’s school resource officers use these old vehicles. Parrish said this would provide better safety and reminded the committee members that when schools are not in session the SROs are doing normal patrolling duties in those older cars.

The plan presented by Parrish included a loan. County Commissioner Austin Jaynes suggested that instead of taking the loan and paying interest, the sheriff’s department should be provided the money from county’s fund balance and pay it back without any interest, on the same time schedule as the loan.

Parrish said the department would be pleased with that change. The committee voted unanimously to make that recommendation to the County Commission.

The Budget Committee reconvened as the nominating committee. One matter discussed was the continuing dispute with the Carter County Planning Commission. The committee voted unanimously to ask Carter County Attorney Josh Hardin to resend a memorandum he provided last year about what state law and a private act allows the County Commission to do in making changes to the Planning Commission.