published Friday, July 27th, 2012

220,000 vote early at Tennessee polls

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.

NASHVILLE — More than 220,000 Tennesseans have voted early or absentee by mail through Wednesday in the Aug. 2 election, a record for a comparable election, Secretary of State Tré Hargett announced Thursday.

Through Wednesday, the total number of people who had voted was 223,281. Early voting goes through Saturday.

By comparison, 206,174 Tennesseans voted early and 11,267 by mail-in absentee ballots in all of the August 2008 early voting period, officials said.

"Early voting numbers for comparable elections hit an all-time high -- with three days to spare," Hargett said in a news release. "I commend all of those Tennesseans for exercising their right to vote and I encourage all other eligible voters to either cast ballots early or come to the polls on Election Day."

Officials say that in regard to turnout statistics, it is important to compare elections with the same races on the ballot. This August election, which is the general election for some county offices and the primary for legislative and congressional seats, is like that of 2008.

There is no governor's race. The U.S. Senate primaries have been fairly low-key affairs while county mayor, sheriff and other high-interest races are not up until 2014. The 3rd and 6th Congressional District primaries have drawn the most attention.

Hargett also took the opportunity to remind Tennesseans to bring state or federally issued photo identification to polling places. Under a new law, such photo ID is required to vote.

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