Decision Day: Record turnout expected at polling sites

Decision Day: Record turnout expected at polling sites

November 6th, 2012 by Chris Carroll in News

Republican presidential candidate, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama walks past each other on stage at the end of the last debate at Lynn University in Boca Raton, Fla.

Photo by Associated Press/Times Free Press.

VOTING HOURS

If you are unsure of when polls are open in your county, call your county's election commission. In general:

Polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. EST and 7 a.m. to 7 p.m CST in Tennessee.

Polls are open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. in Georgia.

VOTING CONCERNS

Anyone with questions or concerns about voting today can call the Tennessee Division of Elections' toll-free hotline number at 1-877-850-4959.

ACCEPTABLE PHOTO ID

Current or expired driver's licenses

U.S. military IDs

U.S. passports

Gun permit cards

Federal and state employee IDs

NOTE: Student ID cards from state universities and colleges will not be accepted.

ON THE WEB

As election results pour in from all over the country tonight, the Times Free Press will help you keep up.

After polls close, an interactive map at timesfree press.com will allow you to click on any state for up-to-date vote totals in the presidential contest. The map, provided by The Associated Press, also will give county-by-county vote totals for Tennessee and Georgia.

Frequent updates on local, state and congressional races will be provided on our website by a team of Times Free Press reporters.

So go to timesfreepress.com and follow the map as it turns red and blue.

ON CHANNEL 3

WRCB-Channel 3 will provide live HD team election coverage all day. At 7 p.m., local and national election results will be broadcast at the bottom of your TV screen.

POLL: Will the presidential election require a recount?

Citing millions in early-voting ballots and intensity on both sides of the presidential ticket, election officials expect an energetic turnout today as Volunteer and Peach state voters finally get their say.

Besides choosing among President Barack Obama, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and several independent presidential candidates, Tennesseans and Georgians will elect officials to various state and federal offices.

Down-ballot Hamilton County elections include six state House races and a tense battle for a newly redistricted state Senate seat held by Democrats since 1976. Additionally, East Ridge, Lakesite, Red Bank, Signal Mountain, Soddy-Daisy and Walden are holding municipal elections.

But most of all, officials said, voters seem especially excited to re-elect Obama or replace him with Romney.

"I could be wrong, but I'm expecting a record turnout," said Hamilton County Election Commission Administrator Charlotte Mullis-Morgan. "If the weather cooperates, it's going to be real heavy."

Voters would be wise to pack an umbrella today -- WRCB Channel 3 meteorologist Paul Barys predicts showers today and a high temperature of about 54.

Compared with civic dysfunction in swing states such as Florida and Ohio, Tennessee election officials reported a relatively smooth early voting process, and they hope that continues into today's 12 hours of open polling.

But today represents the first presidential trial run for a controversial Tennessee law requiring voters to present a federal- or state-issued ID containing their name and photograph at their polling place. Only a handful of photo ID snafus arose statewide during two weeks of early voting, but officials expect more problems as the voting operation expands exponentially.

"We still think it's going to be a small number of folks," said Blake Fontenay, spokesman for State Election Coordinator Mark Goins. "We really feel good about our education efforts."

Tennessee's 95 counties have reported only 188 provisional ballots cast because of voters appearing without a photo ID. About one-third of those voters already have returned with a valid photo ID "in order to ensure their ballots will be counted," according to a news release from Secretary of State Tré Hargett.

Hamilton County officials throughout the campaign season predicted residents would miss the memo on the new photo ID law. But those concerns evaporated during early voting; just two Hamilton County residents didn't bring identification to the polls, and they've since returned with valid ID, Mullis-Morgan said.

Still, only four Hamilton County polling locations were open for early voting, and with 76 opening for business beginning at 8 a.m., Mullis-Morgan isn't sure what to expect.

"It's like I always say -- who knows what Election Day will bring?" she said.

Contact staff writer Chris Carroll at ccarroll@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6610.