(T-G Photo by Brian Mosely)
Bedford County Election Commission Administrator Summer Leverette addressed the city council over the issue Tuesday night, telling members that the move would only apply to voters who live outside the Shelbyville city limits, but own property within the city and have registered with Leverette's office under that address. Such voters are called "property rights" voters.
The option is now available to those voters due to a new law passed by the Tennessee State Legislature this year, Leverette explained.
"This may increase voter participation in the Shelbyville municipal election," she told the council. "Because a lot of people don't take the time to turn out and vote."
She stated that in the past, voters filled out paper ballots at their precinct or during early voting at the county courthouse. However, there had been confusion with some voters wanting a ballot on a machine.
At times, the voters did not let election officials know they were property rights voters and would become upset that they did not get the city elections on their machine ballots, but if the proposed ordinance passed, the confusion would likely stop.
If the ordinance is approved, the election commission would automatically mail the registered voter an application at least 45 days before the election.
If the voter wishes to cast a ballot, they would need to send the application back to Leverette's office and a ballot would be returned to the voter.
"It gives them (the property owners) the opportunity to say, "Hey, I want a vote in this,'" Leverette said, rather than make the trip into Shelbyville to cast their ballot.
The nonresident property owners would have to vote by absentee ballot, but would not be allowed to vote in person during the early voting period or on election day, she explained.
She also said that she would be responsible for checking if a person that lives outside the city limits actually owned property in Shelbyville. The out-of-town voters would have to provide a copy of their deed or a tax receipt.
Only two people who are owners of the property would be allowed to vote and Leverette would have to check at every election to see if the people were still Shelbyville property owners.
Leverette also explained that there would be an automatic mailing during every election so that the voters would not have to request the ballot each time.