AVOID THE LINES
Early voting continues through Aug. 2 at the following locations:
• Brainerd Road Rec Center 1010 North Moore Road
Monday- Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
• Eastwood Church 4300 Ooltewah-Ringgold Road
Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
• Election Commission 700 River Terminal Road
Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-7 p.m., Saturday 9 a.m.– 7 p.m.
• Northgate Mall (Outside, between Applebee’s and former Piccadilly Cafeteria)
Monday-Saturday, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
Voters must have acceptable Tennessee or federal photo ID.
NASHVILLE — An estimated 143,625 Tennesseans have already cast early votes in the Aug. 7 election and state officials are urging more people to vote early due to concerns the lengthy ballot will generate long lines on Election Day.
"If you know who you're going to vote for, go ahead and get your ballot in the box," Secretary of State Tre Hargett said during a telephone conference call with reporters today.
Hargett and State Election Coordinator Mark Goins said early voting, which began last Friday and goes through Aug. 2, is already up 15 percent over a somewhat similar, non-presidential ballot in 2010.
But this year's ballot also includes 23 appellate judges in which voters are being asked to retain or reject the incumbent. And in case you haven't turned on television or opened your mailbox, there's a battle over the retain or reject three incumbent state Supreme Court justices on the ballot.
While Republican and Democratic gubernatorial contests are snoozers, there is a lively U.S. Senate Republican primary, plus a number of contested state House and Senate seats.
Then there are county general election races featuring mayors, sheriffs, county commissioners, clerks and judges.
Goins said some counties have a large influx of local candidates. Tally up all the counties and candidates and there are some 6,000 people running somewhere in Tennessee who have their name on ballots.
Officials say the average ballot year this takes between five to eight minutes to go through.
Four years ago, 47 percent of Tennesseans who voted in the 2010 August elections cast their ballots during early voting, officials said. The total turnout, including Election Day, was about 29 percent of all registered voters.
Polls generally open Aug. 7 in Eastern Time Zone counties like Hamilton County at 8 a.m. and must close at 8 p.m. In Central Time Zone counties like Marion County, polls can open at 7 a.m. and must close by 7 p.m.
Hargett said those who are already in line by the cutoff time will be allowed to vote. But he warned that news oranizations and the public may not find out who is elected until late at night or even early in the morning in some instances.
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, ...