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Longtime polling officials ready for first early voting with new voting machines

Posted at 4:08 AM, Jul 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-12 07:58:33-04

Early voting opens up for Davidson County Friday. Hundreds of Nashvillians will make their way to the polls to cast their ballots ahead of Election Day.

The day before, only a handful of people, like precinct officer Ralph Hatcher, are in the room getting ready for the action.

"After I retired and moved back to Nashville, I saw a notice on the board over there that they were hiring and I just applied for it and here I am," Hatcher said.

That was 12 years ago and every election, he keeps coming back.

"I love it. The people--I enjoy the people," Hatcher said.

The people bring a smile to his face, or maybe he's bringing the smile to theirs.

"If we have some kind of a bad face on them, we always try to cheer them up a little bit," Hatcher said. "When we first started, the lollipops were just for the kids that came through, but we're all kids," Hatcher said.

The actual kids are fun too.

"Last year on one of the elections, this lady had her son and, of course, with my white [hair] I was sitting over where my desk is, my table is and he kept looking at me, kept looking at me," Hatcher said. "He came over, climbed in my lap thinking I was Santa Clause."

This year, Hatcher will be faced with something new.

"We're all learning. We're the first ones to open using the new equipment, so we're the guinea pigs, but we enjoy being guinea pigs," Hatcher said. "We love new stuff."

The new stuff are state of the art voting machines that take a paper ballot. A Nashville election panel approved them, so if there's ever concern of tampering, there's a paper trail.

"I think they're going to be satisfied once they get in here and actually vote on one of them," Hatcher said. "I think it's going to be a whole lot simpler for them."

Now, voters insert a blank ballot, use the touch screen to make selections and take it to the ballot tabulator to officially cast a vote.

Even with the new technology, the familiar faces, like Hatcher, will remain the same.

"We love it," Hatcher said. "That's why we do it."

Early voting begins at 8 a.m. Friday at the Howard Office Building.

MetroNashville posted a video to YouTube with a tutorial on operating the new voting machines.