Local voter turnout heavy for election


Photo by John Bryant
Large voter turnout
Voting was heavy across Elizabethton and Carter County yesterday. Poll workers at the Harold McCormick Precinct said they served a steady stream of voters throughout the day.

By Thomas Wilson
star staff
twilson@starhq.com

  Voter turnout in Elizabethton and Carter County mirrored large voter turnouts around the nation on Tuesday as local voters went to the polls voting on everything from county commissioner to the service of alcoholic beverages in Elizabethton.
  Polling places around the city and county reported a steady turnout of voters throughout Tuesday. According to unofficial voting totals released Tuesday night by the Carter County Election Commission, 22,568 ballots were cast by the county's registered voters representing a turnout of approximately 72 percent.
  "I've never seen this many young people," said Bob Blevins, a polling worker at Happy Valley Elementary School. "It is good to see it turn out like this."
  The Carter County Election Commission reported just over 8,900 citizens had voted in person during the early voting period, which ended last Thursday.
  Carter County voters overwhelmingly voted for George W. Bush by a 2-to-1 margin over Democratic nominee John Kerry in the county's presidential election totals. Bush picked up 15,763 votes in the county to 6,390 for Kerry. Bush won Tennessee and the state's 11 electoral votes.
  Incumbent U.S. Congressman William "Bill" Jenkins returned to his seat as 1st Congressional District representative to the U.S. House of Representatives. Republican nominee Jenkins won 76 percent of ballots cast in Carter County with 15,677 votes while Democratic challenger Graham Leonard earned 4,581 votes, or 22 percent. Independent candidates Ralph J. Ball and Michael Peavler won 298 and 121 votes, respectively, in Carter County.
  In Sullivan County, Jenkins won 73 percent of the vote, earning 42,584 votes, while Leonard received 15,000 votes.
  Running unopposed as the Republican nominee, state Rep. Jerome Cochran received 17,378 complimentary votes to retain his 4th Legislative District seat to the state House of Representatives. Cochran bested John Holsclaw in the GOP primary in August.
  Also running unopposed City Judge Lewis Merryman picked up 4,037 complimentary votes to win another term to the bench.
  Across the county line, incumbent state Sen. Ron Ramsey bested challenger John McKamey by a margin of 65 percent to 35 percent. Ramsey retained his 4th District senate seat gaining 39,378 votes to 20,907 for McKamey.
  The Sullivan County Election Commission reported 71 percent - of 63,350 citizens - of the county's 89,054 registered voters cast a ballot in Tuesday's election.
  Precinct officials at Happy Valley Elementary School estimated over 750 citizens had voted by early Tuesday afternoon.
  A majority of Elizabethton voters voted for a referendum legalizing the on premises sale of liquor by the drink at restaurants within city limits. The referendum was approved by more than 800 votes.
  Election workers at the Hunter and Hampton precincts said a handful of voters were miffed they could not vote on the city referendum regarding liquor by the drink. Voting on the referendum was limited to registered voters who were Elizabethton residents.