The state is asking Tennesseans to please vote early. Secretary of State Tre Hargett says this could be the longest ballot in Tennessee history.
The ballot includes primaries for governor, U.S. senate, and congressional and state legislative seats; county races, judgeships and school board positions; and retention elections for state appellate judges.
Hargett says early voting is the only solution to avoiding long lines and late returns on Election Day.
“Early voting is where it’s gonna have to be. I mean, you can’t make the ballot shorter without constitutional change,” Hargett says.
While 47 percent of the votes in August 2010 were cast early, Hargett says they would like to see that hit 60 percent this year.
After four days, 144,000 people have voted early in Tennessee’s primary and local elections. That’s an increase of about 19,000 compared to the same point in the election four years ago.
Bedford, Putnam, Montgomery, Rutherford and Wilson all have increased by more than a thousand voters. Turnout in Davidson County is actually lower at this point. In Nashville, the only voting site has been at the Howard Office Building downtown. Starting Saturday, satellite poll sites open around the city.
Even with increased early voting, Hargett says some counties shouldn’t expect returns on the Aug. 7 election until after midnight.