ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT

A heavy turnout in Tennessee and Hamilton County bore out what local elections officials predicted would be a "presidential-level" early voting period.

State elections officials were still counting votes at 9 p.m. but said more than 46,000 people had voted statewide on Thursday, with nearly 1.3 million weighing in during the early voting period in total.

In the 2016 presidential election, 1.6 million voted early or by absentee ballot, according to the Tennessee Secretary of State's office.

In Hamilton County, 67,403 voted early. Turnout was more than double the 2014 midterm elections and came close to hitting the 74,751 early ballots cast in the 2016 presidential election.

Although President Donald Trump is not on the ballot, some state and national campaigns have been seen as a referendum on his presidency and the nation's direction.

The race to replace U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, who is stepping down, is between Republican U.S. Rep. Marsha Blackburn, a fiery conservative who strongly supports the president's agenda. Trump is visiting Chattanooga on Sunday to campaign for Blackburn.

Her Democratic opponent is former Nashville mayor and two-term governor Phil Bredesen. He casts himself as a moderate, decrying election-season hype over migrant caravans and border walls and saying he would work with the president and Republicans on things that would benefit Tennessee.

Recent polls put Blackburn slightly ahead but within the margin of error.

The governor's race between Republican businessman Bill Lee and Democratic former Nashville mayor Karl Dean also represents a choice. Lee opposes expanding Medicaid, the health care program for the poor, and supports broad Second Amendment rights. Dean takes the opposite tack, saying the state is leaving billions on the table and hurting its citizens by not expanding Medicaid, and calling for "common-sense" restrictions on firearms.

An NBC News poll this week put Lee ahead of Dean, 56 percent to 39 percent.

Hamilton County Elections Administrator Kerry Steelman said in October that a big bump in voter registrations predicted a near presidential-level turnout for the Nov. 6 election.

Amid a national debate over ballot access and vote fraud, the federal government has said it will be monitoring the polls on Election Day.

The federal government also has several ways to receive allegations of voting rights abuses and voter fraud on Election Day.

Complaints may be made to the Department of Justice Civil Rights Division's Voting Section at 1-800-253-3931 or 202-307-2767; by email to voting.section@usdoj.gov, or in writing at www.justice.gov/crt/complaint/votintake/index.php.

FBI field offices also will be open to receive allegations of election fraud and voting-rights abuses or discrimination. The local field office is at 865-544-0751.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Tennessee also will be monitoring voting. Allegations may be made to Assistant U.S. Attorney Perry Piper at 423-385-1332.

The Tennessee Democratic Party also is advertising a "voter protection hotline" for anyone having problems at the polls. The number is 1-855-844-VOTE (8683).

ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT