Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Knox County early voting numbers up over 2008, 2012 in first 5 days

Five days into early voting, Knox County is seeing a 50 percent increase in voter turnout over the 2008 and 2012 elections.

Cliff Rodgers, Knox County administrator of elections, said about 10,000 people have voted on each weekday and about 6,000 people cast their ballot the first Saturday of early voting bringing the total to 46,188 as of 5 p.m. Monday.

"The numbers have just been out the roof," Rodgers said. "We love it. This is great. This is what we want to see is people coming out to vote early."

According to voting data, the Downtown West location has consistently been the busiest polling location, while the Carter Branch Library location has seen the fewest voters.

"We're delighted," Rodgers said. "I think I've made my goal pretty clear. I want everybody voting early."

In order to achieve that goal, voters must follow the polling location laws and rules.

Rodgers said people cannot talk on their cell phones or take selfies inside the voting buildings.

He also said people must vote in the counties where they are registered.

RELATED: Early voting is underway - here's where to cast your ballot

"We've had some people trying to creep in here from Anderson County and Sevier County and Blount County thinking, well, they can early vote here," Rodgers said. "No, you need to go back to your county and vote."

Rodgers said voters also need to remember that campaign posters and materials, including hats, buttons and shirts cannot come within a 100-foot boundary of the polling location.

"We've had some issues with a few folks on both sides of the presidential aisle, if you will," he said.

Trinity McCulley, a first-time voter who wore a Trump t-shirt to cast her ballot, went to the New Harvest Park location to cast her ballot, but she said she had not heard of the 100-foot rule.

"When I found out I wasn't allowed to wear the shirt and that I was actually forced to take it off before I actually cast my ballot, I was a little bit annoyed by that," McCulley said.

Election officials said the rule is in place to give voters a protective zone from campaign solicitation.

"Everybody's got to learn the rules to do it effectively, and it's a part of the system so you just kind of have to comply with them," McCulley said.

Rodgers said most people are following the rules, leading to the record number of early voters he would like to see continue. Early voting in Tennessee ends Nov. 3.

"We'd love to see nobody on election day," Rodger said. "That will never happen, but the more people we get to vote early, the shorter lines will be on election day."

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