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Voter education session set to help encourage participation

By SERINA MARSHALL
Staff Writer [email protected]

Washington County Administrator of Elections Dana Jones will hold a voter education session at the Johnson City Public Library on Thursday, Aug. 18, at 6:30 p.m.

Attendees will be shown how to find the important information they need on the Washing- ton County Election Commission website before they head to the polls.

“I wanted to do a talk there to help get voter turnout. Keep in mind the election office isn’t responsible for voter turnout, but we want people to come out,” Jones said. “It’s really up to the candidates to get voters out, but we want to help them all we can.”

When trying to find a suitable date for the session, Jones said she found one that was special to her on a few levels.

“When they contacted me, we were working on a date and I said, Aug. 18 is women’s suffrage. It took us 38 years to get the right to vote; it was passed in 1920,” Jones said. “108 years later, one in 10 of us are voting in our county elections. Why don’t we focus on that?”

Jones said the Johnson City Library was excited about that day, which is also Jones’ birthday.

“I then gave them a list of things I could talk about, including turnout and women’s votes and they decided to go with our website — how people use it and what kind of resource it is for people.”

The website used by the election commission is the most interactive website in any sort of county government, according to Jones.

“For voters, which that will be most of the people we will be talking to, they will be able to find if they are registered to vote. Believe it or not, we get that question a lot especially from high schoolers. Am I registered to vote?” Jones said. “On the website, just click your county, enter your first and last name, birth year and last four of your social, and it will bring you up. You can click and find out your early voting site, you can see the precinct, who you vote for, your districts, you can see everything right there.”

Voters can also find out how to register to vote if they aren’t already voters.

“There are seven Tennessee government agencies that will register you to vote,” Jones said. “The Department of Mental Health registers you to vote, DMVs, Department of Health and others. There’s no reason for you not to be registered to vote.”

The site will also show you acceptable forms of voter ID to register to vote.

“You do have to have an ID to vote in Tennessee and you can find out what types on the site,” Jones explained. “There is also absentee ballot information and directions on where to park at voting sites the day of voting.”

Not only does the site help voters, but also candidates. Jones said it is a way to cut down on calls, educate the public and be on the forefront of other election offices.

“Anyone is welcome to come to the session. We welcome people to show up and we welcome questions,” Jones said. “We would love to get people out and get them in- formed. We want informed and fair elections in Washington

County and we need people out. Having a 12% voter turn- out is a very sad thing. Even if you’re happy, come out and vote. Keep that happiness. We just want to educate our voters and assure everybody that what’s done in the Washington County Election Office is done according to state statute.”

For further information on the session, you can call the Johnson City Library at (423) 434-4450. For general infor- mation about elections and voting, contact the Washington County Election Commission at (423) 753-1688.