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Most countians say 'no' to early voting

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Today is the last day of early voting for the March 6 primary election.

Voting has been slow so far, with only 633 early voters in the Republican primary and 167 in the Democratic primary, according Bedford County Administrator of Elections Summer Leverette. But there was a spike of activity on Monday.

"Today's been our biggest day," said Leverette, who reported 138 voters on Monday as of about 2:25 in the afternoon.

Early voting began Feb. 15.

This is the first statewide election in which voters are required to show photo identification prior to casting their ballots. Leverette said that compliance with the new law has gone smoothly.

Precincts still open

On the official election day, Tuesday, March 6, voters who didn't participate in early voting will have to go to precinct locations between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Although some precincts are being consolidated this year, that change does not take effect until the August election. Next week, voters will continue to go to the same precincts at which they voted in the past.

After this month's election, new voter identification cards will be mailed out with voters' updated precinct assignments.

Photo ID

New laws require that voters present a government-issued photo ID at the polls.

Voters over the age of 60 who have driver's licenses without photos and no other form of valid photo IDs for voting may have their photos added to their licenses free of charge.

Examples of acceptable photo IDs, even if expired, include: a Tennessee driver's license with a photo, a United States passport, a Department of Safety photo ID, a United States military photo ID, a state-issued handgun carry permit, or any other photo ID issued by the federal or state government, except college student IDs.

For more information about the photo ID law, call (877) 850-4959 or go to www.GoVoteTN.com. On the local ballot are be a presidential primary, as well as primary elections for county road superintendent and property assessor.

Because Tennessee does not register voters by party, anyone can choose to vote in either the Democratic primary or the Republican primary (but not both, at least not for the same election).

Democratic primary

On the Democratic primary ballot, President Barack Obama is unopposed except for the option to vote for a slate of uncommitted delegates to the Democratic National Convention. Also unopposed are incumbent Road Superintendent Stanley Smotherman and incumbent Assessor of Property Ronda Clanton.

No one qualified to run as a Republican or an independent for either of those county offices, so Smotherman and Clanton will also be unopposed on the August general election ballot.

Republican primary

Because of qualifying deadlines, the Republican ballot includes candidates who have dropped out of the presidential race since the ballot was finalized. On the ballot in Tennessee are Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman, Gary Johnson, Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Charles "Buddy" Roemer, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum, plus the option to vote for a slate of uncommitted Republican National Convention delegates. Gingrich, Paul, Roemer, Romney and Santorum are still active GOP candidates. Bachmann and Perry have dropped out. Johnson, after originally campaigning as a Republican, has dropped out of the GOP race and is now seeking the Libertarian Party nomination.

While the Democratic primary ballot includes only the name of the presidential candidate, the Republican primary ballot is more complex. Voters can choose their favorite candidate, but in a separate race they are also asked to vote for the actual delegates who will represent Tennessee at the party convention. Those delegates are listed by candidate, so you will know which ones support which candidate. There's a race for at-large delegates and a separate race for delegates representing the 6th Congressional District.

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