With hotly contested races for mayor, district attorney and several judge and commissioner races, the number of Hamilton County voters casting ballots during early voting this year more than doubled the number four years earlier in the last county primary election.
A total of 17,266 ballots were cast at early voting sites this month, according to the Hamilton County Elections Commission. That was up 132.5% from the 2018 primary races in the county.
Another 1,855 absentee ballots have so far been submitted and counted by the Hamilton County Election Commission.
Early voting occurred from April 13 through April 28 at six locations across Hamilton County.
Among the early voters and absentee ballots cast so far, more than 81% were cast in the Republican primary. The share of those casting Republican primary ballots is likely to be higher this year due to major GOP contests for county mayor and district attorney and, for the first time ever, partisan school board elections in Tennessee.
Arch Trimble IV, chairman of the Hamilton County Republican Party, said in talking with GOP leaders in Tennessee's biggest counties, he is pleased that Hamilton County has one of the strongest GOP voter turnouts.
"We're really, really proud of all of the Republican leadership we have in this county, and I think we have really good slate of candidates across the board," he said. "I hope whatever happens in these campaigns on Tuesday, we're able to stay united going forward."
If voting patterns and timing are similar to 2018, more than 46,000 ballots could be cast in this year's primary election, which wraps up Tuesday.
In 2018, 20,503 people, or 10.6% of the county's 192,662 registered voters, cast ballots in the May primary elections. Of those, 7,425 voted early in 2018.
Voting turnout is expected to be more this year than four years ago, when fewer primary races were contested in each political party.
Election day voting in Hamilton County will occur at 90 precincts. Polls will be open Tuesday from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m.
To find out where you should vote Tuesday, you can look up your voting precinct at bit.ly/HC-vote-check.
To cast a ballot, Hamilton County voters need to bring valid photo identification. A Tennessee driver's license or photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, Tennessee state government or the federal government is acceptable even if it is expired. Under Tennessee law, student IDs are not acceptable, although handgun carry permits are. More information about voter ID requirements, visit bit.ly/OK-IDs.
The election commission advises voters that casting your ballot in the midmorning or midafternoon may shorten your wait time. Early morning, noon and after 5 p.m. are peak times as people typically vote before work, after work or on their lunch breaks. If there is a line to vote, frail, physically disabled or visibly pregnant voters can request to be moved to the front of the line.