Election vote totals in Tennessee
August 2012 early votes*: 117,073
Democrat ballots*: 32,945
Republican ballots*: 78,931
August 2008 early votes: 206,174
August 2008 election day votes: 356,621
August 2008 total votes: 562,795
August 2004 early votes: 165,902
August 2004 election day votes: 355,393
August 2004 total votes: 521,295
*As of July 19, 2012
• Hamilton County Election Commission, 700 River Terminal Road, 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday; 9 a.m.-7 p.m. Saturday.
• Eastwood Church, 4300 Ooltewah-Ringgold Road,10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
• Brainerd Recreation Center, 1010 N. Moore Road,10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
• Northgate Mall, Highway 153, Hixson, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Saturday.
Source: Hamilton County Election Commission
If you don't vote now, you can't complain later —- that's Chattanooga resident Sherrie Ford's voting philosophy. She cast her ballot Friday for the upcoming Aug. 2 elections and is one of a growing number of Tennesseans to visit the polls before election day.
In fact, this year's early voting turnout is on track to surpass the last two comparable August elections, Tennessee Election Commission Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins said. More than 117,000 people already have voted across Tennessee, and Owens expects that number to climb during the next week.
"What's great about the 117,000 so far is that a lot of people wait until the last day of early voting to vote," he said. "So you're going to see those numbers jump substantially in the last three or four days of early voting. I think we'll surpass the early voting turnout of 2008."
In 2008, about 206,000 votes — 37 percent of the total — came in early. Owens said early voting becomes more popular every year.
"Early voting started in 1994, and you can see this progressive trend where more people are taking advantage of it," he said. "It's really becoming popular. We'll have 40 to 50 percent of a typical election vote early."
Ford said she's been voting early for years.
"Especially if it is a really big election, it's so crowded [on election day]," she said. "Usually early voting is not that crowded, and it's easier to get in and out without having to stand in line."
In Hamilton County, 8,211 votes have been cast with a week of early voting left, which is already about equal to the total early votes in the 2008 election, said Charlotte Mullis-Morgan, Hamilton County administrator of elections. She said early voting has been steady this year, but she still expects to see most voters on election day.
"We hope more people vote early, but on election day there will be more voters than early voters," she said.
In the August 2008 election, about 30,000 people lined up to vote on election day, she said.
Savas Kyriakidis, a Republican Chattanooga resident, said he always votes.
"It's important to really put the appropriate leaders in position," he said. "This is something to take seriously, and we haven't for a long time, and that's why we're in the mess we're in."
Across the state, more Republican ballots are being pulled than Democratic ballots, state voting records show. In Hamilton County, about 5,500 Republican ballots have been pulled, compared to about 2,500 Democratic ballots. The same trend shows in Bradley County voting, with about 3,800 Republican ballots cast and only 391 Democratic ballots.
Owens said he's always hoping for a high voter turnout.
"Even though we are on track to have more people turn out than the last comparable election, that's not enough in my mind," he said. "I still want more people to vote."
Shelly Bradbury covers police and crime in Chattanooga and Hamilton County for the Times Free Press. She's been with the paper since 2012, working first as an intern and then as a business reporter. She is from Houghton, New York, and graduated from Huntington University in Huntington, Indiana, with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and minor in management. Before moving to Tennessee, Shelly previously interned with The Goshen News, The Sandusky Register and The Mint ...