Early voting ‘going kind of slow’

Published 10:00 am Friday, October 24, 2014

Across the state, voters are turning out in smaller numbers to take advantage of early voting than they have in previous years.
A report released Thursday by the state Election Commission said 224,721 Tennesseans cast their ballots during the first seven days of the early voting period. That number is down from 308,621 votes cast during the same time period for the November 2010 mid-term elections.
Locally, the story is much the same, according to Carter County Administrator of Elections Tracy Harris.
“It’s going kind of slow, actually,” Harris said.
Early voting opened on Oct. 15 and when the polls closed for the day on Wednesday, a total of 1,587 votes had been cast during the first week, Harris said.
During early voting for the 2010 November election, Harris said 5,948 ballots were cast. She said voter turn out for 2014 must be compared to voter turn out in 2010 because the ballots were similar since both were mid-term elections. She said more than 10,000 Carter Countians early voted during the 2012 election, but that was a presidential election.
According to the report from the state, during the first seven days of early voting for the November 2010 election, 2,732 votes were cast, which means early voting turn-out in Carter County is down more than 40 percent. Across the state, 92 of Tennessee’s 95 counties are reporting lower voter turnout numbers.
Locally, the November ballot includes races for Elizabethton City Council, the Elizabethton Board of Education and state and federal offices.
The ballot will also provide voters with a choice on four proposed constitutional amendments. Voters casting ballots in the Elizabethton and Johnson City elections will also have a choice on a local referendum on whether or not to permit the sale of wine in grocery stores.
While the line at the polls Thursday morning was not long, Harris said there was some excitement ­— a transformer malfunction knocked out power at the courthouse.
“We couldn’t get the computers on or anything,” she said, adding while the voting machines do have back up batteries they do not last very long. In the event the batteries failed, Harris said voters could use a paper ballot like the ones used for absentee voting. “We have a back-up plan,” she said, adding the plan was not necessary as power was restored just minutes before the polls were set to open.
Early voting continues through Thursday at the Carter County Courthouse, with polls open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m.-noon Saturday.

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