2,138 vote early in Obion County; primaries Tuesday
By: AP, staff reports
From AP, staff reports
More than 2,000 registered voters in Obion County have already cast their ballots in Tuesday’s elections.
The early voting period in Tennessee lasts 15 days and allows voters to make their selections early to avoid long lines on Election Day and to provide more opportunity for those who may be working on Election Day and cannot afford to take off work.
Administrator of elections Katie Guess, which has worked in the local election office for more than 15 years, said she thinks the early voting process is a good thing for Tennessee’s voters.
“Early voting causes more people to vote,” she said, adding it’s more convenient. “Early voting is the way to go to help people vote.”
Overall, 320,939 early votes have been cast in Tennessee — 2,138 of those in Obion County, where there are about 19,800 registered voters.
Tennessee election officials have said turnout for Tennessee’s presidential primary could reach a record of one million voters by Super Tuesday.
State Election Coordinator Brook Thompson told the Associated Press this year could break the record of 830,000 set when Al Gore ran for the Democratic presidential primary in 1988.
“I think if everything breaks just right, we could approach a million,” Thompson said.
Thompson said turnout is likely up statewide because the race is still contested for both parties, unlike previous years when Tennessee voted later in the year. Local races and referendums in some counties also contributed to a larger than normal turnout, election officials said.
Last year, the General Assembly approved moving up Tennessee’s primary from Feb. 12 to join 23 other states voting on Super Tuesday.
Typically, about 480,000 people vote on primary election day, Thompson said, but those numbers don’t come close to voting totals during a general election. There are about 3.3 million active registered voters in the state. In the November 2004 general election, 2.456 million voted.
“There’s a lot of interest in this, but it’s nothing like a general election,” Thompson said.
Provisional ballots will be tallied up after the Feb. 5 election, and it usually takes counties one or two days to do that, Thompson said.
Absentee ballots are sometimes included in the early voting tallies from counties, but overall absentee votes will be included in election night totals on Feb. 5.
The deadline for military ballots was extended for Tennessee until Feb. 15. Those will be tallied up to be included in the certified election numbers. Thompson says he is expecting a few hundred military ballots this year.
Mrs. Guess said election numbers in Obion County won’t be certified until Feb. 19 because of the military votes. Obion County did have several requests for ballots from military personnel and it is possible election numbers will change after the election if those ballots are received before the Feb. 15 deadline.
The local administrator of elections said changes at the local office over the 15 years she has worked there, including early voting and a switch to high tech machines, have increased the number of people who vote.
“Over the years as we’ve moved and everything is more high tech, the machines have brought out more people. Everybody loves to vote on them,” she said, adding the number of people voting has increased a lot.
“This year it will increase more. It always does in a presidential year. It depends on who is running and if it’s only incumbents or if there is competition. If there’s competition, they will turn out,” Mrs. Guess said of voters.
Tuesday’s election includes presidential preference primaries for both Democrats and Republicans and one local race — the Democratic primary for Obion County assessor of property.
Obion Countians who wish to have a voice in who the next assessor of property will be will need to cast their ballots in the Democratic primary as there are no additional candidates on the August ballot for the local office. The winner will take office in September.
Mrs. Guess has said all candidates who wished to run for assessor of property had the same deadline to file the paperwork as those who are on the ballot for the Democratic primary. The deadline to be considered as a write-in candidate has also passed. Candidates who filed the appropriate paperwork for assessor of property and who are included on Tuesday’s ballot are Gordon Fox, David Godwin, Robert George Kendall, Kathy P. Robertson and Judy D. Smith.
Names on the Democratic presidential primary ballot include Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton, Chris Dodd, John Edwards, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich, Barack Obama and Bill Richardson.
Residents who decide to vote in the Republican presidential preference primary will be asked to select a presidential candidate from the field which includes Rudy Giuliani, Mike Huckabee, Duncan Hunter, Alan Keyes, John McCain, Ron Paul, Mitt Romney, Tom Tancredo and Fred Thompson.
Registered voters may also select 12 delegates at large and three eighth congressional district delegates.
For those who haven’t voted, the polls will open at 8 a.m. Tuesday and close at 7 p.m.
Polling locations include South Fulton Municipal Building in District 1; Eddie Cox Senior Center on Depot Street and Woodland Mills Civic Center in District 2; Kenton Gym and Rives Fire Station in District 3; Obion County Fairgrounds in District 4; Cloverdale Community Center, Hornbeak City Hall and Samburg Pentecostal Church in District 5; Obion Community Center and Troy Senior Center in District 6; and Obion County Public Library in District 7.
Residents who have moved and did not get the change made at the election office will need to vote at the polling location for their new address. The voter should notify poll workers so fail-safe paperwork can be properly filed. Registered voters who are unsure of their polling district or location may call the election office at 885-1901.
Residents who are not registered voters have until July 8 to register for the August elections, which will also include races for the United States Senate, U.S. House, state Senate and state House. The deadline to become a candidate for those races is April 3 at noon.
Several city races will be held in November when the presidential election will be on the ballot. Petitions for those races will be available May 23 at the election office and must be filed by Aug. 21 at noon.
Published in The Messenger 2.4.08