The final touches on the new Smith County Election Office were being hammered out Thursday morning as the office staff organized the new space.
“It’s definitely going to be more accommodating for voters,” she said.
Commissioners agreed the new location will better serve residents and voters than the Annex Building location.
Commissioner Terry Phillips said the street-level building will be more accessible and have more available parking. He said the move also will reduce wear and tear on the Annex Building’s elevator system, which carried more than 1,300 voters to the fifth floor almost every day of the 12-day early voting period last year.
More than 350 electronic voting machines will not have to make the down-and-up trip during elections as well, Mrs. Nelson said. The new building has a loading dock connected to the storage room, allowing staff and volunteers to move the machines without interrupting typical daily traffic, she said.
The election office will occupy roughly half of the building. The other half will be available as a multi-purpose room to use for town hall meetings, large jury pools and other needs, county Judge Joel Baker said.
“I am excited that we could create a space for the Elections Office perfectly suited for the services they provide to the Smith County voters,” Baker said.
The county purchased the building and two others in 2008 for $450,000. The county has since remodeled one of the buildings to house its Physical Plant.
Renovations to the election office were budgeted at $425,000. The county spent $412,167 on renovations as of Friday, according to the auditor’s office.
The purchase and renovations put the building’s square foot cost between $60 and $70.
Christian said the structural features of the building, including 13-inch walls and a new roof, will make the building energy efficient.
“I had my doubts when we started but it turned out to be a really nice building for a great price,” Christian said. “It will serve the taxpayers of Smith County well for many years.”
The Election Office at 302 E. Ferguson St. is open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday.