(T-G Photo by Brian Mosely)
Election Commissioner Summer Leverette said Friday that turnout has been "a bit slow" during the first week of voting at the Bedford County Courthouse, where folks can beat the crowd on Election Day and cast their ballots early.
"We're thinking they (the voters) maybe haven't decided on some races, so they're going to wait until next week," she said.
Early voting continues through Saturday in the Bedford County Courthouse basement. Hours are 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Monday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Tuesday-Friday, 9 a.m.-noon Saturday..
On the first day of early voting last Friday, 230 people cast their ballots and, after a full week, Leverette said that 895 citizens had voted.
But when broken down by party, so far, Republicans have cast 617 votes while Democrats make up 278 of the early ballots.
Leverette said the number of people voting for the GOP ticket is a change from recent years.
"It used to be that Democrats were more prominent, and now it's Republicans," she said.
For example, on Tuesday, July 20, 101 people pulled the lever for GOP candidates, while just 27 supported a Democrat.
One factor that could be keeping folks away from the polls is the extreme heat wave, because she says the election office is usually flooded with people who typically vote early.
The Aug. 5 election will be a general election for county offices and for the Town of Bell Buckle, as well as a party primary for state and federal offices.
A voter will need to tell the poll worker whether they want to vote in the Democratic or the Republican primary (or neither), which is the reason for the "Democrat" and "Republican" check-boxes on the voter sign-in form.
However, Tennessee does not register voters by party, and a person may vote in whichever primary they choose during a given election -- but not in both party primaries for the same election.
Write-in candidates are running in three of the county commission races. To cast a ballot for those choices, voters must push the button labeled as "write-in" and then use the buttons as directed to type out the candidate's name.
Although the "write-in" button is always offered, and there are usually some write-in votes cast in any election, in practice Tennessee only counts write-in votes for candidates who have asked, in advance, for those votes to be counted.
Leverette has said that the write-in candidates would probably delay results on election night but it really depends on how many of those votes are cast. Election workers will have to go through the list of write-in votes and manually count the names of the registered candidates, allowing for minor misspellings and variations in how names are entered.