McMinnville officials have agreed to consider a measure that will allow property rights voters to cast their city-election ballots by mail. The item should be under consideration on July 22.
Warren County election administrator Donna Smith made a presentation to the board weeks ago asking officials to consider adding the mail-in voting option as a way to ease the burden on the commission because it would no longer be required to place a special ballot machine at the courthouse on Election Day for property rights voters to use.
Last week, Mayor Jimmy Haley reminded the board that it has yet to act on the request.
“We need to make a decision on this. Is it’s the board’s wishes that we prepare a resolution to reflect the Election Commission’s request,” said Haley.
The board voted unanimously to consider the measure. In attendance with Haley was Vice Mayor Ben Newman and Aldermen Mike Neal, Ken Smith, Jimmy Bonner and Billy Wood. Absent was Alderman Rick Barnes.
In Smith’s presentation to the board, she said the mail-in option will change how property rights voters cast their ballots but not take away their right to do so.
“Our mission is to encourage people to vote, not discourage it,” said Smith. “I think anyone who has known me throughout my career knows I’m a big proponent of voting.”
A property rights voter is someone who does not live inside the city but owns property there and can register to vote in city elections based on their property ownership. The city has approximately 200 voters who fit that category.
Currently, the Election Commission encourages those voters to take advantage of early voting rather than waiting until Election Day. For those who opt to wait, the commission must place a special ballot machine at the courthouse for them to use. A resolution would take away the option to wait and require them to vote by mail in city elections.
Smith says she will be asking all cities in Warren County to consider making the change.
“I’m going to be appearing before all the boards in all the cities of Warren County asking them to consider making this change,” she said. “Centertown, I think, has five property rights voters. Viola probably has two. Morrison probably has a handful. McMinnville has the largest property rights registration with approximately 200 people.”
Officials have until Sept. 5 to pass a resolution and file it with the Election Commission for it to take effect in the 2014 elections. If the deadline is met, the 200 affected voters will receive a ballot card in the mail with a ballot guide.