'Election Day," when many Tennessee voters will cast their ballots, is Nov. 2. But for some people who choose to avail themselves of the opportunity to "vote early," the election is already "on," having begun yesterday.
Tennessee has 3.54 million active registered voters. Only about half of them are expected to cast ballots, even though very important decisions are to be made.
Tennessee will elect a governor to succeed Gov. Phil Bredesen, who is completing the legal limit on consecutive terms.
Have you realized there are actually 16 - count 'em - candidates' names on the ballot for governor? Yes, 16 have qualified to run, though most of their names are not familiar to most voters. And in addition to the 16 gubernatorial candidates, the ballots will have a place for any voter with another preference to write in some "other" choice.
The "big names" running for governor are Republican nominee Bill Haslam and Democrat nominee Mike McWherter. The "others" are independents.
Also on the ballots will be the contest for U.S. representative in Congress for Tennessee's 3rd Congressional District. The winner will succeed Rep. Zach Wamp, who chose to run for governor instead of seeking almost certain re-election to Congress. Wamp lost in the earlier Republican gubernatorial primary.
That leaves Republican congressional nominee Chuck Fleischmann and Democrat nominee John Wolfe, along with independents Don Barkman, Mark DeVol, Gregory C. Goodwin, Robert Humphries, Mo Kiah and Savas T. Kyriakidis on the ballot for the choice of the next congressman.
In the elections for the Tennessee General Assembly, Republican state Sen. Bo Watson, Republican Rep. Gerald McCormick, Republican Rep. Richard Floyd, Democrat Rep. JoAnne Favors, Republican Rep. Vince Dean and Republican Rep. Jim Cobb are unopposed, and thus sure to be re-elected. Incumbent Democrat Rep. Tommie F. Brown is being challenged by Republican Teresa Wood.
In addition to those decisions, voters may say "yes" or "no" to a proposed constitutional amendment declaring, "The citizens of this state shall have the personal right to hunt and fish, subject to reasonable regulations and restrictions prescribed by law."
We encourage all registered voters to vote. We would like to see many more people voting than the predicted participation of only about 50 percent of those registered.