Big turnout highlights first day of early voting

By Thomas Wilson
STAR STAFF
twilson@starhq.com

   If the first day of early voting is any indication, Carter County's voter turnout could be impressive for the August 1 county general election.
   The county's first day of early voting saw 298 citizens cast votes for the state primary and county general election.
   "I expect it to be a really big turnout because we've registered more people for this election than we did the (2000) presidential election," said Tracy T. Harris, administrator of elections for the county Election Commission.
   Over 19,300 Carter County citizens -- roughly 65 percent of the county's registered voters -- cast ballots in the 2000 presidential election.
   Citizens are voting for county officials in the general election and state and federal representatives and senators in the Republican and Democratic primaries.
   Harris said her office had registered 30,963 county citizens as voters for the upcoming election.
   The election commission had mailed ballots to over 530 citizens for absentee voting, said Deputy Administrator Laura Holtsclaw.
   Holtsclaw said 333 county citizens had received ballots by mail for the general election and 331 absentee ballots had been sent for the Republican and Democratic primaries.
   The election day also found some candidates campaigning a bit too close for comfort in terms of their campaign signage.
   State law prohibits campaign signs or literature within 100 feet of the building's door where polling is taking place.
   Tennessee Code Annotated Title 2, Chapter 7, 111, reads that within the established 100-foot boundary and the building in which the polling place is located, " ...the display of campaign posters, signs or other campaign materials, distribution of campaign materials, and solicitation of votes for or against any person or political party or position on a question are prohibited. No campaign posters, signs or other campaign literature may be displayed on or in any building in which a polling place is located."
   Incumbent Register of Deeds Johnny Holder said the "Johnny L. Holder for Register of Deeds" sticker had been on the door of the deeds office for 32 years, but said he would remove the decal if requested to do so.
   "If they tell me to take it down, I'll take it down," said Holder. "Whatever they tell me to do is what I'll do."
   The banner had been covered by paper by late Friday afternoon.
   Sam Q. Ritchie, secretary of the Election Commission, confirmed that no candidate was supposed to have any signs within 100 feet of the courthouse door. He also said the commission did not have measuring instruments to determine proximity of the campaign sign placements.
   Other candidates with vehicles parked near the courthouse displaying their own placards and banners were also inside the 100-foot limit on Friday afternoon.
     Early voting continues through July 27, Monday through Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 9 a.m. to noon.