Hundreds vote early

By Thomas Wilson

Registered voters in Carter County and Elizabethton continued to cast their ballots in state and city elections as early voting continues through Thursday of this week.
   "We have mailed 500 absentee ballots," said Laura Holtsclaw, deputy administrator with the Carter County Election Commission. "Those include military personnel, college students, and that also has to do with the perpetually ill who have doctor's statements saying they can't go to the polls."
   Holtsclaw said Friday that 31,004 county residents were registered to vote in the election. Of that number, she said 7,954 were voters registered to vote in the Elizabethton city election.
   City voters will choose four members from an eight-candidate field in the City Council race and two members from three candidates running for School Board.
   The ballot includes a U.S. senator, a 1st District U.S. house member, a state senator from the Third District, a state representative from the Fourth District, and voting on two constitutional amendments.
   One of the two constitutional amendments involves the lifting of a constitutional ban on a state lottery. To pass, the lottery referendum must receive a "yes" vote from a majority of those voting in the gubernatorial election.
   Passage of the referendum by voters does not automatically create a lottery. If the referendum is approved, it removes the Constitutional prohibition against a lottery. The General Assembly may then choose whether to enact legislation to create the lottery.
   The second amendment would permit the legislature to set fines greater than $50 to be imposed on citizens who violate municipal ordinances when appearing in a court hearing not heard by a jury.
   The amendment was sponsored by the lobby group the Tennessee Municipal League. In 2001, the Tennessee Supreme Court ruled that the $50 limit applies when sanctions are levied for punitive purposes, but does not apply when sanctions are levied for remedial purposes.
   Voters wishing to vote for a write-in candidate may press the "write-in" button beside the section and press the white write-in window.
   The window will open and the voter may write the name of their candidate in on the exposed piece of paper. The paper will advance for every additional write-in selection.
   Early voting continues through Oct. 31, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the second floor conference room of the county courthouse.