NASHVILLE — More than 725,000 Tennesseans cast ballots last week during the state's first four days of early voting in the Nov. 3 general election, a record-busting 42% jump over 2016 as voters continued to line up at polling stations as well as hit mail boxes with absentee mail-in ballots.
Those voting so far represent 16.4% of the state's 4.4 million registered voters.
Georgia voters, meanwhile, continued setting records as well, casting 1.48 million early ballots through Saturday. With the addition of another 58,494 votes by mid-day Monday, the figure of ballots cast was just over 1.55 million.
Early voting resumed Monday in both states in races from the presidential contest between Republican President Donald Trump and Democrat nominee Joe Biden to U.S. Senate and down-ballot races for state legislatures.
Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett's office said that on Saturday at least 103,219 more votes were cast, bringing the total for the first four days to 727,290. Figures excluded six of the state's 95 counties, including Monroe and Blount counties in East Tennessee.
During Tennessee's start of the two-week period, which runs through Oct. 29, 591,870 people cast in-person ballots at early voting sites, according to figures on Hargett's website.
Another 135,420 used absentee mail-in ballots under relaxed guidelines allowing voters vulnerable to the coronavirus to vote. That figure is more than double the number of absentee ballots cast in Tennessee during the entire 2016 presidential election.
In Hamilton County, where votes continued surging past 2016 records, another 4,363 people cast in-person ballots on Saturday. County voters cast a total of 33,514 votes over the four-day period, according to the Hamilton County Election Commission website. Of the total four-day tally, 22,217 were in-person ballots while 11,297 were mail-in votes, according to the county.
"It's exciting to see such a strong turnout during the first few days of early voting," said Hargett, a Republican. "We are on pace to break our previous voter turnout record, set in 2016. I applaud county election officials across the state. They have stepped up to handle the massive turnout, providing voters with a smooth and efficient process to cast a ballot."
Across the border in Georgia, where early voting began Monday and is also breaking records, the total number of early, in-person ballots cast rose 31,767 to 819,406 over the weekend, while the total number of absentee-by-mail ballots was pegged at 663,026.
Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger said that "notwithstanding the pandemic, voters in the Peach State can take advantage of no-excuse absentee ballot voting by mail or through a secure drop box; three weeks of early, in-person voting; or Election Day voting."
Contact Andy Sher at email@example.com or 615-255-0550. Follow on Twitter @AndySher1.