published Friday, March 1st, 2013

Chattanooga early voting has strong finish

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.
March 5 polling places
March 5 polling places

Early voting in Chattanooga's mayoral and City Council elections started slowly but finished strongly.

As of 4 p.m. Thursday, the last day to vote early before Tuesday's election, 7,266 people had cast ballots, Hamilton County Elections Administrator Charlotte Mullis-Morgan said.

"I think the last two or three days, people decided to get out and vote. We're going to surpass 2009 for early voting," Mullis-Morgan said. "Everything's gone pretty smoothly; we just weren't real, real busy. ... We'll see what kind of turnout we have Tuesday."

Polls will be open from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. on election day.

The mayor's office and all nine City Council districts are on the ballot, although District 5 Councilman Russell Gilbert and District 6 Councilwoman Carol Berz are unopposed.

City voters also are being asked whether to deannex some property on Elder Mountain and update the City Charter to eliminate obsolete city codes.

Mullis-Morgan had said the charter changes weren't very well explained on the ballot, but election officials tried to help.

"We had several calls about it, and we tried to explain it to them best we could. Anybody that came in we gave a copy of it to them," she said.

Collegedale residents also are electing three city commissioners. Only three names are on the ballot.

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