Holding an election takes a skilled team of election officials, and Coffee County has scores of volunteers ready to assist voters in casting their ballots this November.
According to Coffee County Elections Administrator Andy Farrar, more than 100 officials help each election. Larger elections, like the presidential elections every four years, take more officials, while primaries take a reduced number of helpers.
“For the March and August elections, we had around 130 officials for each election,” Farrar told The News. “For November we will have around 170 officials.”
Farrar added the county was “very fortunate” to have the majority of voting officials returning for the November election.
“Other counties in Tennessee are not as fortunate,” he said.
Farrar credited the Tennessee Secretary of State’s public campaign to recruit new poll workers as one reason the county has kept its number of election volunteers consistent this year, despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Several “long-term” officials that have assisted with elections for years chose not to return for the November presidential election due to COVID-19 concerns, he said, but thanks to the secretary of state’s campaign, the Coffee County Election Commission has “not experienced any shortages of workers.”
In fact, Farrar said, his office has seen an increase in volunteer interest. The increased interest has helped take some election stress off his shoulders, he added.
“With the unknown of someone getting ill or having to quarantine for several weeks, we are still adding available volunteers to our list and will contact them as positions come open.”
According to Farrar, to be eligible to work the election, volunteers must be Coffee County citizens and registered to vote if they are 18 or older, though younger volunteers may also assist.
“State law was changed this year to allow 16- and 17-year-old high school students to volunteer also,” he said.
All those wishing to serve as a poll worker must attend a 1- to 2-hour training session prior to working an election, Farrar added.