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Early voter turnout across Tennessee setting new records

Early voter turnout across Tennessee setting new records

Posted: Thursday, October 30, 2008 9:29 pm
By: AP, staff reports

  From AP, staff reports

NASHVILLE — Voter turnout had already set a new Tennessee record going into the last day of early voting today.

The two-week early voting period attracted 1.13 million voters when the state set its previous record in the 2004 presidential election. That total had already been surpassed by about 111,500 voters through Tuesday.

State Election Coordinator Brooke Thompson said the trend is for 1.5 million people to cast their ballots by the time the early voting period ends this evening. Election Day is Tuesday.

In Obion County, where there are 21,507 registered voters, 5,851 people had already cast their ballots through  Tuesday.

Administrator of elections Katie Guess said 2004 was one of the biggest years for early voting in Obion County and the state office has already notified her Obion County has surpassed those numbers. “We’ve already set a record and still have today to go,” she said.

Early voting in the county has been smooth, with voters being very patient, Mrs. Guess said, adding the early voting period ends today at 4:30 p.m. Those who wish to cast their ballots early should do so before that time at the election office on Bill Burnett Circle in Union City.

She recommends residents who haven’t already voted to arrive at the polls before 7 p.m. Tuesday, so they are assured being able to vote. She said the officer of elections at each polling place will mark the line as 7 p.m. approaches on Election Day.

Mrs. Guess said any resident who has moved, but has not made a change of address with the election office, is requested to call the election office on Tuesday and find out at which polling place they should vote. Everyone who wishes to vote must provide a voter registration card or other form of identification.

Tennessee’s election coordinator projected that overall turnout will easily exceed the 2.45 million who voted in 2004. There are nearly 4 million registered voters in Tennessee this year.

About 45 percent of the state’s votes were cast early in the last presidential election in 2004, and Thompson said this year’s percentage could be higher.

No major problems have been reported so far, Thompson said.

“To have run over 1.2 million people through the system already, it has been remarkably smooth,” he said.

Shelby County has seen the highest turnout in the state with nearly 202,000 early voters so far, followed by Davidson County with 157,000 voters.

Last week, Sullivan County officials reported about 10 voters received ballots for the wrong state House district. Gena Frye, the county’s top election official, attributed the mix-up to human error and said it was quickly corrected.

Thompson said county election officials are prepared for an onslaught of voters on Tuesday.

“Our counties are as ready as they can be,” he said. “It’s a great thing that we will have already had 1.5 million through the system by Election Day.”

Early voting began in Tennessee in 1994.
Published in The Messenger 10.30.08

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