Early voting period maintains popularity

By Thomas Wilson
star staff
twilson@starhq.com

  The popularity of early voting continues to gain ground in Tennessee and across the nation with voter registration on the rise as the Nov. 2 presidential election draws near.
  Only 20 percent of Tennesseans participated in early voting in the November 1996 elections. Four years later when President George W. Bush and Al Gore faced off for the Oval Office early voting participation jumped to 36 percent statewide with voter turnout across Tennessee exceeding 63 percent.
  Of the 31,453 county citizens registered to vote in the November 2000 election, more than 19,300 citizens -- roughly 61 percent of registered rolls -- went to the polls. Early voters totaling 6,051 comprised 31 percent of the November 2000 voting totals. Early and absentee ballots combined exceeded 7,000 voters.
  Early voting totals represented 34 percent of all ballots cast statewide in the November 2002 election. Thirty-one percent of Carter County voters went to the polls early two years ago.
  Tennessee voters will cast ballots on Nov. 2 for the president and vice president, the U.S. House of Representative, even numbered districts of the state senate, and all 99 seats of the state House of Representatives.
  Citizens going to the polls in the Nov. 2 election are required to follow these requirements of voter identity:
  * All citizens going to the polls need a valid identification such as a driver's license or voter ID card to present to poll workers.
  * A citizen who is not voting for the first time may fill out an affidavit of identity if he or she does not have a valid identification with them when voting.
  * Citizens voting for the first time must bring a valid identification to present to poll workers; first-time voters cannot fill out an affidavit of identity. If a first-time voter does not have a valid identification, he or she can retrieve an ID and return to the polls or fill out a provisional ballot that will not count in the election results.
  The early voting period runs from Oct. 13 to Oct. 28. Citizens may vote from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday during the early voting.
  Polls open at 8 a.m. and close at 8 p.m. on Election Day.
  The Elizabethton Star will profile the candidates seeking at large seats to the Elizabethton City Council, Elizabethton Board of Education, and the 4th District seat of the Carter County Commission in its Sunday, Oct. 19 edition.