With the first week of early voting for the Aug. 2 state primaries and the county general election in the books, local election officials are reporting extremely low turnout figures.
As of the end of Thursday, the Carter County Election Commission announced a total of 426 registered voters have cast ballots at the early voting precinct at the county courthouse in Elizabethton.
In addition to those who have taken advantage of the 14-day early voting window, another 115 individuals have voted by mail. The absentee ballot tally includes local residents as well as military personnel who are serving on active duty outside Carter County.
Registered voters who are presently receiving long-term medical care at local nursing homes were also given the opportunity to vote last weekend when election officials traveled to local nursing facilities. Carter County Election Administrator Tracy Harris reported a total of 82 nursing home residents participated in this August’s primary and general election.
For the first six days of early voting, the election commission figures show an average daily turnout of 71 registered voters. The highest turnout for early voting occurred on Thursday, July 19 when a total of 90 individuals showed up to the county courthouse to cast a ballot. Last Saturday’s turnout of 21 voters was the lowest participation date through the first week of early voting.
If the current trends continue, Harris said this year’s early voting period will fall below 2008’s early voting numbers. She commented 2008 was the last August primary and county general election that did not feature a full slate of county races. Two years ago, the ballot featured a full slate of candidates running for the county commission and the county’s mayoral race.
A total of 2,983 county residents voted in-person or by mail during the August of 2008 state primaries and county general election. Those figures include a final count of 2,777 ballots submitted at the early voting precinct at the Carter County Courthouse.
Harris said she believes one of the primary reasons for this year’s low turnout in this election cycle is due to the fact there are a limited number of local races on the ballot. The only countywide office up for consideration this year is for the Carter County Assessor of Property position. Incumbent Republican Ronnie B. Taylor is running unopposed for the job.
The remainder of the ballot for the county’s general election consists of the 1st District County Commission seat and the 1st and 6th District Constable elections. Only one candidate, however, is running in each of those three races.
Voters in the 1st, 4th, 6th and 8th School Board Districts are also being asked to select a new representative on the Carter County Board of Education.
This election cycle also features Republican and Democratic primaries for the 3rd and 4th District seats in the Tennessee House of Representatives, 4th District State Senate, Tennessee’s 1st District in the U.S. House and one U.S. Senate seat.
When asked which race seems to be largest draw in this election cycle, Harris said voters have not expressed an opinion on the matter. She added, however, “As we get closer to the actual date of the election, we’re certainly hopeful that we will begin to see an increase in voter turnout.”
Carter County’s early voting period will continue for the remainder of this week. The precinct is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. The polling location will also be open on Saturday, July 28 from 9 a.m. until 12 noon.
Early voting is being held at the Carter County Courthouse’s main conference room 205, which is located across the hall from the mayor’s office on the second floor.
For further information, please contact the Carter County Election Commission at (423) 542-1822 or by email at email@example.com.