Officials hope to have policy in place by Aug. 7 elections

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Knox County officials are looking into establishing a cell phone use policy for early voting and for Election Day.

The move comes as the county's election commission received a complaint during the May primary that at least one voter at the Larry Cox precinct distracted and upset voters because he talked while inside the voting booth.

The Knox County Election Commission will discuss the matter during its June 20 meeting.

"I don't think the problem is going to go away," said county Administrator of Elections Cliff Rodgers. "You either deal with it now or later and I don't think the state Legislature is going to get involved."

Rodgers said he hopes the five-member commission puts something in place by the Aug. 7 elections.

He said at this point he will recommend that the commission bans people talking on cell phones while meeting with election workers to fill out paperwork and while inside the voting booth.

"We just need to do away with that – it's not a good idea and it's rude," Rodgers said.

However, Rodgers said that he doesn't want to ban people from using their phone to take pictures so long as the photo does not indicate how someone else voted.

"We let the media come in and take pictures and it is a public place," he added.

Rodgers said the state doesn't have a policy about using cell phones inside voting locations, so the decision is left to individual counties. He said that he's checked with other election administrators and policies vary from allowing cell phones to out-right banning them.

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