NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Opening polls for in-person voting during the pandemic was a big task across the country. Nearly 13,000 people cast ballots on the first day of in-person, early voting in Davidson County, but one site in particular raised social distancing concerns with voters.
The Belle Meade City Hall polling site had lines wrapping around the building at lunchtime Wednesday, the line leading voters to the polling entrance at the back of the city hall.
News 2 found voters upset that the entrance to vote was the same as the exit, and in order to get in and out, they had to walk down a narrow path between a wall and a bush, about a yard wide.
“I came early to vote because I wanted to adhere to COVID protocols and stay distant from other people, but as you can see, they’re exiting in the same way in which they’re entering which is against COVID protocol,” Christine Lunsford told News 2.
“The sidewalk is maybe 3 feet wide and if you walk next to the shrubbery, maybe you get another 12 inches, but that’s not enough to stay distant. You’re actually butting up next to people, rubbing shoulders, and that’s concerning,” she added.
News 2 inquired with the lead election commission staff member on site and was told that there was nothing they could do because the city would not permit them to use a second door.
The Tennessee Secretary of State provided a list of recommendations to polling sites in the spring. It does not state there has to be a separate entrance and exit but does advise lines need to keep people 6 feet apart and “voters and poll workers have to stay at least 6 feet apart at all times.”
A phone call to the election commission administrator rendered immediate action, telling News 2 Thursday that they worked with the city to get a separate door for exiting opened.
The entrance of city hall is now the exit for voters.