Early liquor voting wraps up for PF

Mar. 11, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

The early voting process for Pigeon Forge’s liquor referendum ended Saturday, with over 1,000 qualified voters coming out to vote since early voting began on Feb. 22.

“We’ve had around 50 voters per day, so that’s what we expect for today, too,” Administrator of Elections Ronee Flynn said around 10:15 a.m. Saturday, at which point just over 1,000 votes had been tallied, including write-in ballots.

As an administrator, Flynn said she doesn’t go out in the main room and voting room of the Sevier County Election Commission, but she assured that the poll workers have been vigilant in their duties.

“Everything has been running smoothly, going good,” she said.

Jim Bishop, poll watcher for the anti-liquor group Concerned Churches and Citizens of Pigeon Forge, said the poll workers were going out of their way to make sure nothing suspicious happened, after a judge voided November’s referendum legalizing liquor by the drink in Pigeon Forge.

“They don’t want this election to go wrong again,” Bishop said. “There have been some issues. I’ve had to make two challenges, but the poll workers have cleared them up. They’ve really been on the ball.”

Bishop has been at the polls every day since early voting began, sitting near the voting room eight hours a day for a total of 97 hours as of Saturday morning.

“My responsibility is to make sure qualified voters are able to vote and unqualified voters aren’t,” Bishop said.

He tallies the voters on a pad of paper, making note of who’s a resident and who owns property, and keeps up with anything else that goes on, “just to keep from being bored,” he said. He makes a note of any media visits, as well as appearances of pro-liquor poll watchers.

When asked whether any of the pro-liquor poll workers had stopped by, Bishop said, “No, they quit coming.” Then he flipped through his notepad and said, “The last time they were here was last Saturday.”

“Well, that was quick and painless,” said voter Tiffany Wohlfahrt as she exited the voting room. Wohlfahrt voted early because she “knew it would be crazy next week,” alluding to the referendum set for March 14. She voted in the previous referendum that was tossed out, and she thinks the result will be different this time.

“I voted the same, but I think the outcome will possibly be different,” she said.

rhargett@themountainpress.com