Polls open extra time after slow start


TSPLOST falls short, school board incumbents fall

  • Kevin Johnson and Reagan Griggs Pritchett, candidates for Chief Magistrate Judge, will face a runoff election August 11.
    Kevin Johnson and Reagan Griggs Pritchett, candidates for Chief Magistrate Judge, will face a runoff election August 11.

Despite a slow start to the primary election day, Gilmer County finished the night with vote totals for all the local races.

To compensate for a delayed start to voting at some precincts, a judicial order extended poll times for up to 30 minutes.

Gilmer County Chief Registrar Tammy Watkins said the new equipment was the reason for the slow start. All precincts were open, they just weren’t ready to process voters.

“Some of our precincts had trouble opening up their equipment,” she said. “Some were a little slow bringing things up.”

In some cases, she said the delay was just in a certain order things have to be powered up.

“Once everybody got open, everything went smoothly,” Watkins said.

After the morning, the only delay was when voters who requested mail-in ballots came to vote in person without their mail-in ballots. When this occurred, there had to be calls with the main office to cancel the mail-in ballot.

Watkins said things were slowed a little as poll workers sanitized equipment between uses.

“It was all new to everybody,” she said. “Considering, our poll workers did a wonderful job.”

In all, 3,088 voters cast ballots in person on June 9. Another 1,480 cast ballots during early voting days.

Mail-in ballots were at a record level with 4,349 returned out of 6,117 requests.

Local nonpartisan races for school board were on the ballot with Thomas Ocobock being challenged by Michael Parks for the Post 1 Board of Education seat and Jim Parmer being challenged by Joe Pflueger for Post 2.

The board will see two new faces as Parks garnered 4,492 votes to Ocobock’s 3,501 and Pflueger received 4,173 votes to Parmer’s 4,001.

All other local contested races on the ballot were in the Republican primary.

For tax commissioner,  incumbent Becky Marshall won the Republican nomination with 5,663 votes with Penney Andruski receiving 701 and Sharla Davis getting 643. Marshall has no challenger in the November election.

For coroner, Beth Arnold received 2,112 votes to incumbent Jerry Hensley’s 4,857. Hensley has no opposition in November.

For chief magistrate judge the top three vote getters were Kevin ‘Troop’ Johnson at 1,940 votes, followed by Reagan Griggs Pritchett with 1,887 and Norman Gibbs with 1,484.

Election Superintendent Scott Chastain said a runoff will be triggered in the race between Johnson and Pritchett since no one received 50 percent plus 1 votes.

In a special election question for Gilmer County residents were asked to decide on a one cent sales tax to be used for transportation needs, a TSPLOST. The question failed with 5,532 ‘no’ votes and 3,140 ‘yes’ votes.

All totals are provisional until certified.

Watkins looks for the runoff, which takes place on Aug. 11 with early voting beginning July 20, to run smoother.

“We are going to have additional training,” she said.

Finding poll workers was difficult this year all over the country due to the pandemic of COVID-19.

“I just want to thank the poll workers for all their hard work and dedication,” Watkins said. “Thanks for hanging in there with us.”