Referendum poll watchers named

They'll serve during early voting period
Feb. 21, 2013 @ 11:45 PM

Twenty people have volunteered as poll watchers for early voting on the liquor referendum.

One represents Concerned Churches and Citizens of Pigeon Forge, the group that opposes liquor by the drink. The other 19 are with Forging Ahead, which campaigns for liquor by the drink.

Concerned Churches has said that voting on the referendum should be monitored by an independent organization.

All 20 submissions were filed at the Sevier County Election Commission on Wednesday. The deadline for early-voting poll watchers was noon.

Poll watchers representing Forging Ahead: Paul Delahunt, Bill Duncan, Jennifer Dyer, David Fee, Sean Freeman, Jennifer Gustafson, Kevan Hawkins, Tom Headla, Jim Hedrick, Tom Horne, Ken Maples, Tom Marsh, Ed Milner, Henry Piarrot, Joel Sandler, Pam Smith, Leslie Thomas, Mark Thomas and William Willison.

The poll watcher representing Concerned Churches in early voting is Jim Bishop.

Early voting on the March 14 liquor referendum begins Friday at the Voting Machine Warehouse, 1145 Dolly Parton Parkway in Sevierville, and runs through March 9.

Poll watchers for election day itself must register by noon on March 12.

According to state law, poll watchers may be appointed by political parties and groups of citizens that are "interested in a question on the ballot or interested in preserving the purity of elections and in guarding against the abuse of the elective franchise."

Poll watchers must be at least 17. At the polling place, each group can be represented by only one declared poll watcher at a time.

"They are only able to observe the proceedings," deputy election commissioner Ed Kuncitis said. "They have to keep their distance from voters. They can't talk to voters. They can't do anything that makes a person too uncomfortable to vote. They are not to talk to anybody except the officer of elections, if they do have some kind of issue."

Early voting takes place today at nursing homes, including Sevier County Healthcare Center, Wellington Place and Fort Sanders Sevier. Poll watchers can accompany election workers to nursing homes.

In November, Pigeon Forge voters approved liquor by the drink. That result was voided because of voting irregularities, and another vote was scheduled for March.

kburns@themountainpress.com