Election Commission predicts big turnout at polls

By Julie Fann
S
tar Staff
jfann@starhq.com

   Administrator of Elections Tracy T. Harris said yesterday she expects a big voter turnout to the polls today for the 2002 county and state elections. The Carter County Election Commission reported 4,925 citizens voted during the two weeks of early voting this month.
   The number represents 16 percent of the county's 30,983 total registered voters, according to the Election Commission. During the 1998 county and state races, 3,405 citizens who cast their ballots voted early.
   The 2002 early turnout still falls behind the 5,985 early votes cast in the 2000 presidential election.
   "Election officers from all precincts are picking up their ballot boxes full of supplies, and their voting machines today," Harris said. Harris said approximately 189 election officials will be working at all 21 precincts.
   Carter Countians will be electing a new county executive for the first time in 20 years. "We're trying to be careful with everything since it's such a contested race," Harris said. "But, then, we always try to be very careful."
   Harris said this election should run more smoothly since the commission has a new tabulator, an electronic device that automatically reads ballot cards by precinct, then feeds a summary into the computer.
   Voters will also choose Republican and Democratic candidates in the state primary for Governor, the U.S. Senate, the state House 4th District and the state Senate's 3rd District. Other county election races generating strong interest are that of Sheriff and Circuit Court Clerk.
   The Circuit Court Clerk's race features incumbent John Paul Mathes taking on three challengers: probation officer Tammy Eggleston, Justice Center custodial supervisor Russell Kyte, and Tennessee State Trooper Dexter Lunceford. Mathes won a landslide victory over write-in candidate Roger Dale White in 1998.
   Harris said all three members of the Election Commission staff including herself, Assistant Administrator Laura J. Holtsclaw and Deputy Brandi Malone, will be working today. Also, all five election commissioners will be available.
   Election commissioners include: Jerry K. Oliver, Chairman; Sam Q. Ritchie, Secretary; Mike Nave, member; Raymond M. Bautista, member; and Phil Isaacs, member.