Quarter million Tennesseans cast early votes in 1st eight days, but state, local totals fall from 2018, 2014

Staff photo by Olivia Ross / Many came out to the Hamilton County Election Commission for early voting on July 15, 2022. The State and Federal Primary and State and County General early voting runs from July 15 to July 30. Election Day is Thursday, August 4, 2022.

NASHVILLE - Just over a quarter million Tennesseans cast ballots during the first eight days of early voting in the Aug. 4 state primaries and county general election contests.

But while 225,747 have voted so far, early and absentee voting is down 24.69% from four years ago. That's when Republicans were engaged in a GOP primary slugfest for the party's gubernatorial nomination in a primary contest won by now-Gov. Bill Lee. This year, Lee has no primary opponent.

Democratic gubernatorial candidates Dr. Jason Martin, Memphis City Councilman JB Smiley Jr. and Memphis activist Carnita Atwater are vying for their party's nomination, and the winner will face Lee in the state's Nov. 8 general election.

In Hamilton County, 8,265 people voted early or by absentee this year during the first eight days of early voting, through Saturday. That's 2,204 fewer people than four years ago, when 10,469 people voted, representing a 21.056% drop.

Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett's office reported county and statewide totals Monday for the eight-day period running from July 15 through Saturday. Early voting continues this week through Saturday.

Contests on the August ballot include GOP primaries for governor and the General Assembly as well as local general-election contests for county mayor, district attorney general, county commission, school board and some other local government elected jobs.

Four years ago, 299,748 people voted statewide during the first eight days of early voting. This year's figures represent a 74,001-person drop from 2018.

According to Hargett's office, 146,613 Republicans have already cast ballots since July 15. Democrats have cast 64,501. Some voters choose not to vote in party primaries.

State figures show Tennessee early voting so far is not only down from 2018 but also dropped from the August 2014 county general and state elections.

That year featured a fierce GOP nomination battle between U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander and rival Joe Carr as well as pitched GOP primary battles in the 3rd Congressional District, where U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, R-Ooltewah, defeated rival Weston Wamp for a second time, and U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, R-Sherwood, defeated Republican rival and state Sen. Jim Tracy of Murfreesboro.

In the fall, Fleischmann will face Democrat Meg Gorman.

State records for 2014 show 287,624 people voted during the first eight days of early and absentee voting in state primary and the local government general election. That's 61,877 more people who voted compared to same period this year, representing a 21.51% drop in voting.

In Hamilton County, 3,222 fewer people have cast ballots so far in 2022 compared to the same period in 2014. That's a a 28.05% drop.

This year, Wamp ran for county mayor and won in a spirited May 3 contest with Hamilton County Commission Chairwoman Sabrena Smedley and businessman Matt Hullander. Wamp faces Democrat Matt Adams in the Aug. 4 county general election.

Coty Wamp, who is Weston Wamp's sister, is the Republican nominee for Hamilton County District Attorney. She faces Democrat John Allen Brooks on Aug. 4.

Contact Andy Sher at asher@timesfreepress.com or 615-255-0550. Follow him on Twitter @AndySher1.