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Jay Greeson

Psst, not sure if you are aware but early voting started Wednesday for the upcoming city of Chattanooga elections.

And judging from the early numbers, most of you may be unaware.

First, let's deal with some facts (Side note: Sadly, the folks who started the whole 'Fake News' nightmare have opened the floodgates for everything from outright lies to deniability. We have reached the point where anyone in power who does not like a story, no matter how well-sourced, reported and written, is trading the tired "no comment" for the trendy "fake news" allegation. This is not good).

Anyway, back to the facts.

Fact: More people locally voted in the November presidential election than in any county or city election.

Still, that does not justify the relative indifference of Wednesday's first day of early voting.

Fact: On the first day of early voting at the Election Commission, 81 people had voted between 8 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.

Fact: On the first day of the general election in November, there were 40 people in line when I voted. I counted.

Fact: The two biggest turnouts of early voting are the first day and the last day. The numbers again, according to Election Commission voting machine specialist Steve Gaston, are undeniable.

"No doubt those are the biggest days," he said Wednesday morning.

Gaston was one of two Election Commission employees dealing with the snail-like pace of Wednesday's voter turnout.

It felt like church. The whispers, the passing of pens and pencils, the quiet directions of where to go next as opposed to last November, when passion and purpose were on everyone's mind.

Sadly, whether Chattanooga citizens realize it or not, this election almost assuredly will affect your day-to-day life more than the controversial polling of three months ago.

"Yes, this is par for the course," Gaston said of the slow poll roll of Wednesday. "But I agree 100 percent that this election has a much greater effect on the daily life of Chattanoogans than any national election."

There are few lightning rods this time around. There are a limited number of "outrage" confrontations between candidates generating as much angst-related movement or support.

In this space in recent weeks, we have wondered about the merit of the candidates running for mayor, and those concerns remain.

The fact that so few voters are making their voices heard is sad, as is the corollary that too many Chattanooga citizens are letting their voices go silent.

Because, make no mistake, you may attend every protest on either side of the river and may send checks to every good cause that has ever put out a pamphlet, but if you do not vote, you are squandering your chance to be heard when it matters.

"I vote in every election," Chattanooga resident Otis Jackson said with a wide smile on his face. "To me, it's unbelievably important."

And what about those who don't vote?

"I can't speak for them," Jackson said.

Of course not. Who can speak for them when they don't take the time to speak for themselves?

Contact Jay Greeson at jgreeson@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6343.

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