published Thursday, August 2nd, 2012

Tennessee heads to polls today

People vote at Burk's United Methodist Church in Hixson.
People vote at Burk's United Methodist Church in Hixson.
Photo by Ashlee Culverhouse /Chattanooga Times Free Press.

WHAT TO BRING

• Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. in both Tennessee time zones.

• All voters must present a federal- or state-issued ID containing the voter's name and photograph at their polling place.

Source: Tennessee Secretary of State

Sample Republican ballot
Sample Republican ballot
Sample Democratic ballot
Sample Democratic ballot

NASHVILLE — After a record turnout for early voting and millions of dollars shelled out for often-negative ads, Tennessee voters get their say today on which Democratic and Republican nominees will be in races this fall for seats in the state Legislature, U.S. House and U.S. Senate.

Also on the ballot are general election contests for school boards and property assessors in all 95 counties. In some, including Hamilton County, voters have special elections for county mayor, judge slots or other local posts.

"Obviously, we are hoping for a good turnout," said Blake Fontenay, spokesman for State Election Coordinator Mark Goins.

For months, Southeast Tennessee voters have watched a hotly contested 3rd Congressional District Republican primary. First-term incumbent U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann is battling GOP primary challenges from dairy executive Scottie Mayfield and Weston Wamp, son of former 3rd District Rep. Zach Wamp, and businessman Ron Bhalla and the contest is helping amp up voter interest, election officials say.

A Republican nomination fight between Chattanoogans Todd Gardenhire and Greg Vital in the state's open 10th Senate District also has generated attention. Three Democrats -- Quenston Coleman, Chattanooga City Councilman Andraé McGary and Hamilton County School Board member David Testerman are vying for the Democratic nomination.

In the state's 28th Legislative District, Democratic voters must choose between incumbent Reps. Tommie Brown and JoAnne Favors, both D-Chattanooga. Brown has been the representative for District 28 for 20 years, while Favors served in District 29 for eight years. But under federally mandated redistricting done by the Republican-led Legislature, both are now in District 28.

And a fierce two-man GOP primary between state Rep. Jim Cobb, R-Spring City, and Dayton businessman Ron Travis in the 31st Legislative District also has attracted statewide interest.

During the early voting period from July 13-28, Tennesseans shattered records with about 326,350 voters casting early ballots in this year's state primary and county general elections, a 58 percent increase over 2008, which had a similar slate of races and attracted 206,174 early voters.

Read LIVE election day updates here.

about Andy Sher...

Andy Sher is a Nashville-based staff writer covering Tennessee state government and politics for the Times Free Press. A Washington correspondent from 1999-2005 for the Times Free Press, Andy previously headed up state Capitol coverage for The Chattanooga Times, worked as a state Capitol reporter for The Nashville Banner and was a contributor to The Tennessee Journal, among other publications. Andy worked for 17 years at The Chattanooga Times covering police, health care, county government, ...

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