Davis working election despite ineligibility
Concern was also raised by Diane Wilson, whose bi-racial son heard a racial slur during primary voting.
Despite having been removed as a poll worker during early voting, Randal (R.J.) Davis was working at the Chilhowee precinct on election day. Davis, the son of Election Commissioner Pete Davis, does not qualify as an election worker because relatives of election commissioners are not permitted to work elections. While his name tag at the precinct did not include his last name, Davis is on the payroll list given to the County Executive’s office.
Election Administrator Steve Gaddis initially said he did not know who all worked on election day. He said if Davis’s name was on the list, then he must have been there, adding the party picks the workers and he didn’t have any control over it. Gaddis said when they were having trouble finding workers on election day, they would take anyone they can. He said both sides had a hard time finding workers.
Concern was also raised by Diane Wilson, whose bi-racial son heard a racial slur during primary voting. She said Sterling Wilcoxon, the man who allegedly used the racial slur and had turned in a letter of resignation and agreed not to work the polls, was working at the South Polk precinct again this election. Wilcoxon had reportedly been a poll watcher during early voting, as well. Gaddis said Wilcoxon was not a paid worker and that any candidate could appoint a poll watcher.
“If the state doesn’t want him to work, they don’t want him to volunteer,” Wilson said, adding it was not right for her family to have to walk back into South Polk school to vote and see the man who had upset her son. She said she could not understand why any candidate would intentionally invite back someone who had embarrassed the county.
Questions were raised by several local citizens when a picture surfaced that showed seals normally used for ballot boxes having been cut and thrown away outside the Copper Basin Community Center where early voting was held. Gaddis explained that the seals were not taken from the ballot boxes. He said he used the seals on the outside of the door of the Ducktown office to ensure they would know whether or not anyone had gone inside because the machines were inside.
Jim Woody expressed concern that his wife, Tonya, was listed as having already voted on election day when she had not. He said he went to vote and Tonya was planning to go later in the evening, but while he was there he was told she was listed as having early voted in the democrat primary. “And we KNOW that’s not right,” he quipped. Woody said they were later told Phillip Woody’s name was above Tonya’s and he had signed on the wrong line. Tonya was given a paper ballot to vote on.
Many local residents expressed concern that no sample ballot was placed in the Polk County News before election day. Among the visitors to the newspaper office on election day were people asking where their precinct was and who the candidates were.
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