Voter turnout was light but steady Thursday morning at precincts in the Glenwood community downtown and in Harrison on Highway 58 while officials at the Brainerd BX said action had been slow early in the day.
"Turnout is low," Brainerd precinct Officer of Elections Richard Hyatt said. "At 10 o'clock this morning, we had voted only 45 people."
Hyatt said the stringent measures for COVID-19 didn't seem to deter anyone.
"Everybody has come in with a mask," he said. "We've had no problem whatsoever."
Voters at the three precincts cast ballots in both the Democratic and Republican primaries but their pick of candidates was somewhat mixed.
At the Brainerd precinct, Katie and Nick Love said the decision was "tough" but they both ended with a vote for U.S. Senate candidate Marquita Bradshaw in the Democratic primary, citing her her strong environmental posture and her goals in a time of change.
"I feel like Robin Kimbrough and Greg Davis were an option, too," Katie Love said. "I feel like we are in a time in need of change."
She said the women, Bradshaw and Kimbrough, offer "what we need most for the majority of people in Tennessee."
Nick Love said he was impressed by Bradshaw and liked her background and agreed with her stance on the environment, and Katie Love said she also like the idea of Bradshaw as a Black female senator.
Mary Cole and Barry Moody both said they cast votes for Republican candidate Manny Sethi because "he's not a career politician," and Cole added she also liked Sethi for being a "strong Second Amendment advocate."
The precinct at the Glenwood Community Center had a steady stream of morning voters despite tight parking. The precinct's Officer of Elections Korlon Kilpatrick said turnout there had "slow but steady."
"This is about what we expected because of early voting and write-ins," Kilpatrick said of people who chose alternative ways to cast ballots. Kilpatrick also noted the mask requirement had been no problem.
Voters at the Glenwood precinct cast ballots in both primaries with a mix of picks.
William Hudson voted for Gary Davis in the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate, although he said he wasn't as familiar with his current campaign as he was on his platform a couple of years ago.
Hudson was more focused on November when "we've got to get rid of the nut in the White House."
Meanwhile, David and Susan Bouler cast their ballots for Bill Hagerty, a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate and a strong ally of President Donald Trump.
David Bouler said he likes the way Hagerty thinks and the fact he's a Christian.
"I'm a Christian, and I like people that love the Lord first," he said. "He cares about the people, not power."
Susan Bouler said Hagerty's brand of conservatism appeals to her.
"He's a supporter of Trump with conservative values, [and] his philosophy is conservative," she said.
Early in the day at the Harrison Ruritan Club — where voters in Harrison precincts 1, 2 and 6 cast ballots — Officer of Elections Terry Bohannon said turnout was "pretty good" so far. He said voters come in with their own mask and a couple of poll workers were staffing the doors so voters didn't have to touch them.
Marcia Sivley said she cast her ballot for GOP candidate Sethi in the U.S. Senate Republican primary "because he's a Christian" and because he didn't trash talk Hagerty like Hagerty did him.
Fellow Harrison voter Rusty Packard cast his ballot for candidate Natisha Brooks in the same Republican primary for similar reasons.
"I've been seeing all those commercials with those two guys [Sethi and Hagerty]; it's like who can love Trump the most, and I don't really care about that," Packard said.
Desmond Fair said he cast his ballot in the Democratic primary but declined to say for whom.
Fair and the other voters at all three precincts said they had no problem with the mask requirement for election polling and thought officials were taking on the new task well.
Contact Ben Benton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6569. Follow him on Twitter @BenBenton or at www.facebook.com/benbenton1.