Polling Locations Are Decreasing While Small Businesses Are Heavily Affected During COVID-19 Outbreak


March 18, 2020

Polling “Supersites” Will Create Social Density And Makes In-Person Voting Harder.

Nashville, Tenn — Today, Lenda Sherrell , state director of Tennessee Small Business Alliance, issued the following statement on Voter Precinct Consolidation during the COVID-19 outbreak.

“We are in unprecedented times. Many small business owners in Tennessee are working to keep their businesses solvent, and supporting their communities by following public health measures. Small businesses are among the hardest hit by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Instead of taking actions that would support small businesses and protect and serve their customers, today we learn that the Senate State and Local Government Committee is considering an amendment to SB2297 that would empower county election commissions to close down local polling locations and create ’emergency supersites’ when a polling location is deemed to be ‘unavailable or unsuitable due to an emergency.’ This new language defines “emergency” to include “disease outbreaks and epidemics.”

“Small business owners know that an engaged electorate makes our communities stronger. Closing polling locations and consolidating them into “supersites” only creates more social density and makes in-person voting harder.   A better option would be to update the current absentee voting requirement to include a social distancing and quarantine provision as a condition of voting by mail in Tennessee.

“Additionally, there are 20 counties with no hospital, and hundreds of thousands in our communities left without close access to care, further endangering our citizens during this pandemic. Expanding vote-by-mail and expanding Medicaid puts us on track to solve those problems in our system as soon as possible for a safer today and safer tomorrow.

“In a time of crisis such as this, the State Legislature and Gov. Lee should only be focused on efforts that might save lives. Small businesses are doing their part by encouraging responsible social distancing measures, and taking steps to protect their customers and employees.

“We remind Gov. Lee and our elected representatives that this is not about you or your party – it’s about us. Save as many lives as you can. Yes, it will be inconvenient, but it’s up to all of us to do the right thing.”