Voter turnout low during Tuesday’s primary election

Published 9:31 am Thursday, May 3, 2018

While much of Tuesday’s County Primary Election was smooth sailing according to local election officials, it was marked by a drop in voter turnout.

Just under 9,700 of the county’s 32,848 registered voters cast ballots in the primary election, creating a voter turnout rate of 29.48 percent. In 2014, during the last county primary election, just over 9,900 of the county’s 32,074 registered voters at that time cast ballots, for a turnout rate of just over 42 percent.

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Of the county’s 22 precincts, Unaka had the highest turnout rate with 38.88 percent. The county’s largest precinct, Happy Valley, had the lowest with 15.56 percent of the voters casting ballots.

Carter County Administrator of Elections Tracy Harris said Tuesday’s election was carried out without any major incidents at any of the precincts related to the machines, though one precinct did have trouble with a printer when the polls closed.

“Everything went smoothly, except for the complaints at the Roan Mountain precinct,” Harris said.

Election officials received several complaints regarding campaign worker conduct at the Roan Mountain precinct, Harris said, adding that incidents which occur outside of the 100-foot boundary around the polling place are outside of the authority of the Election Commission.

Unofficial results from the election were released Tuesday night after the polls closed. On Wednesday morning, election officials began work on making the results official.

Members of the Canvassing Board began work on Wednesday reviewing the voting tapes from each machine used in either early voting or at the precincts on Tuesday. The Canvassing Board is made up of members of both political parties, and each machine’s tally is reviewed one at a time to ensure accuracy in the reporting of votes. The Board also reviews and counts write-in votes.

Harris said she anticipates the canvassing process will last two or possibly three days.

Once the voting tapes have been reviewed, the write-in votes tallied, and election staff reviews any provisional ballots which were issued, the voting results will then be presented to the Carter County Election Commission.

The Carter County Election Commission will meet at 9 a.m. on May 14 to certify the election results, making them official, and forwarding them on to the Tennessee Division of Elections.