Nonprofit sends wrong voting times for Knoxville elections

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KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The Knox County Election Commission warned Knoxville residents Monday about a nonprofit organization sending voters the wrong polling times.

Knoxville voters will head to the polls Tuesday for the general election.

Clifford Rodgers, administrator of elections for Knox County, said the polls open at 8 a.m. and close at 8 p.m.

Rodgers was livid that an organization out of Washington, D.C., the Center for Voter Information, mailed voters the incorrect polling times.

According to a spokesperson for the group, the letters were mailed to 13,945 people in the Knoxville area.

“We had seen mailers before, but it didn’t have erroneous information on there,” Rodgers said.

He said at least two people have brought the letter to his office’s attention over the weekend, and he has seen the letter shared on social media.

The letter says “Cast your ballot and participate in the Knoxville Municipal Election on Nov. 5. For more information about the election, please visit KnoxCounty.org/election. Polling places will be open from 6 a.m. until 6 p.m.”

Picture of the letter with wrong information which was sent to 13,495 people around Knoxville.

Rodgers was furious that the wrong information was sent out, but he was even more upset that the letter was sent so close to elections, it will be hard to notify everyone who may have received it.

“The bigger concern is, is somebody not going to vote tomorrow because of this? They plan on voting at 6 a.m., or 7 a.m. and we’re not going to be open,” Rodgers said.

He said that for as long as he can remember, the polls in Knoxville were always open from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m.

Rodgers also said the organization never contacted the Knox County Election Commission for the correct polling information.

He said he was glad someone is encouraging people to vote, but that giving the wrong information could have the opposite effect.

Rodgers said he planned to contact the district attorney’s office about the letter to see if any election laws were violated.

He said officials asked for the actual letter someone was sent, not a picture of the letter that Rodgers was given.

He encouraged voters to go to KnoxCounty.org/election ahead of Tuesday to double-check where they should be voting, what they need to bring and at what times the polls will be open.

The following statement was sent from a spokesperson with the Center for Voter Information:

“Thanks for bringing this to our attention. We deeply regret this error and will be taking all the steps we can between now and when the polls close to reach potential voters who received this mailer.

We are in the process of figuring out how this error occurred and are calling voters who received this mailing to ensure they have the correct polling hours. We are also taking out social media advertisements to encourage people to make it to the polls.

Our work is dedicated to increasing participation in elections, so this error was entirely unintentional and we deeply regret it. Our programming has helped register and mobilize more than 4.2 million voters, with a focus on what we call the Rising American Electorate: young people, people of color, and unmarried women. Our goal is to increase participation in elections, particularly because this group is highly mobile and often needs to register and re-register at a new address before voting.

Again, thank you for reaching out and thank you to the viewers who flagged this error in our mailing for you.”

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