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Early voting closes with rush

Early voting concluded in Carter County on Thursday afternoon with its highest single-day turnout, as more than Photo by Brandon Hicks460 voters went to the polls to cast their ballots.
By noon, more than 200 residents had cast their votes, and by 4 p.m. when the polls closed, a total of 467 individuals had been through the polls. Election workers at the courthouse on Thursday said there were occasional lulls during the day, but that overall it was a very busy day.
Administrator of Elections Tracy Harris said voter turnout on Thursday was much higher than on any other day during early voting, and that overall early voting totals were up as well.
“It has been better than the 2010 turnout,” Harris said. “In 2010 for this same election we had 4,003 (early voters) and this year we had 4,240.”
According to Harris those are the grand totals for the early voting period, which includes early voting at the courthouse, absentee ballots, mail-in votes and the nursing home votes. Harris said the number of people who appeared in person to cast their ballots early this year was 4,047, compared to 3,946 in 2010. Harris added that 193 people voted by absentee ballot this year.
Once early voting concluded on Thursday, the cards from the voting machines were sealed in the presence of representatives from both the Republican and Democratic parties. “Because this was the Republican primary, only the Republican representative was needed but we use both to follow the letter of the law,” Harris said.
The votes from early voting will remain sealed until the polls close at 8 p.m. on May 6.
“Once the polls close we will tally the votes,” Harris said. “First the absentee votes will be tallied and then the early voting.” The votes from the precincts will be tallied as they come in to the courthouse on election night.
According to Harris, early voting has run smoothly with few problems this year.
“The only complaints we have had are about people standing in the road,” Harris said.
There was one technical glitch during early voting. One of the voting machines went down a few days ago, but the votes from that machine are secure, Harris said.
“On election night the MicroVote people will extract the votes out,” she said, adding that once the problem was detected, the machine was shut down and sealed.
Early voting started on April 16, ended on May 1 and operated 6 days a week. According to Harris nine employees worked each day to keep things running smoothly.
Voting at the precincts will run from 8 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Election Day. Harris advises voters to remember to bring their photo ID in order to be able to vote, and also to expect wait times at the precincts.
“As of July 1, 2013, the law on IDs changed. It changed from just a state ID to a State of Tennessee ID,” Harris said, adding that federal IDs can still be used, but that out-of-state IDs are no longer accepted as proof of identity due to the change in the law.
There was a bustle of activity outside the courthouse as well on Thursday, as a large number of people gathered around the 100-foot boundary mark carrying signs, waving at passing motorists and campaigning for their candidates.
Several candidates were also present throughout the day to personally meet and greet voters.