Washington, Unicoi counties to debut new voting machines

TRI-CITIES, Tenn. (WJHL) – Election officials in Tennessee are busy preparing their equipment ahead of Super Tuesday in March.

Tennessee primary voters will hit the polls on March 5 alongside 15 other states, including Virginia.

Washington County is one of several counties in the region that will be debuting new voting machines. The machines received approval from the Washington County Commission back in 2022.

Round-the-clock work is underway to ensure the new machines are running properly.

Washington County Election Commission Chairman Gary McAllister said that these machines are easy to read and more user-friendly.

YOUR LOCAL ELECTION HQ: Early voting for Virginia Presidential Primary now underway

McAllister and other commissioners spent Wednesday morning testing a few of the early voting machines.

“We’ve already gone through them two other times,” McAllister said. “We’re checking a third time to make sure things are checked and they’re correct ballots for the voters.”

Unicoi County will debut the same machines as Washington County. Unicoi County Administrator of Elections Sarah Fain said that the biggest difference that voters will notice is the paper trail that these new machines provide.

After filling out your electronic ballot, a paper ballot will print under a glass screen where the voter will be able to have a second look to make sure that their ballot is how they voted.

“It’s similar to our old machine, but it just has a backup paper trail for people to be able to see their vote printed to make sure what they’re casting is what’s printed on the ballot,” Fain said.

CRIME: Teen charged in shooting that killed Dobyns-Bennett student

It’ll be a busy year for election officials with elections slated for March, August and November. Fain said her office will be open for voters who have questions about elections.

“People should have full confidence in our voting machines,” Fain said. “We’ve got a machine set up before elections so that they can see it for themselves.”

McAllister said that voters should expect a safe and secure election.

“I know it will be,” McAllister said. “The State of Tennessee is number one in election integrity and I think Washington County leads the way.”

The voter registration deadline for the March 5 primary is Feb. 5. The early voting period is Feb. 14–27.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to WJHL | Tri-Cities News & Weather.