Tennessee Voter turnout neared presidential levels

By MIKE CHRISTEN   |   The Daily Herald

Following a local record turnout of early voters for a midterm election, officials in Maury County said they saw a steady flow of Election Day voters at the county’s 20 voting precincts on Tuesday in a turnout that neared that of a presidential race.

Election results released Tuesday indicated that a total of 32,973 voters cast their ballots for the midterm election. The election nearly achieved the same participation as the 2016 presidential race which saw a total of 35,369 local voters cast their ballots.

The recent election saw more voters than in the 2014 election which saw 18,466 locals vote for Governor along with mayor and vice mayor of Columbia.

According to a 2017 estimate, Maury County has a population of 92,163.

At Highland Park Baptist Church, a precinct which is only assigned three voting machines, officials said more than 100 voters made it to the station before the usual evening rush. In the past, the station has struggled to reach 100 voters during an election.

To the East at True Vine Baptist Church, officials said they saw a steady flow of voters throughout the day, with a dozen or so first-time voters casting their ballot before 2 p.m.

Election official Mark Saline, said he commends the young voters for coming out. He has treated them to a song of his own composition in the past.

“It is amazing,” Saline told The Daily Herald. “That is what inspires me.”

In the past three weeks, Saline said he watched many who would otherwise not vote due to working hours, or other hindrances take the time to visit the Maury County Election Commission and vote early.

“We were packed for early voting,” Saline said. “People are busting their butt to vote and that is inspiring.”

At the East Columbia church, Kelly Johnson cast her ballot with her 3-year-old son Jamie by her side.

“There is a lot of bad stuff going on and a lot of things that I don’t like,” Johnson said. “I am voting for my son and his future.”

“Everyone should vote,” Johnson continued. “Everyone makes a difference.”

More than 19,000 voters having already cast their ballots in early voting, the Maury County Election Commissioner Todd Baxter said the county saw a record turnout in early voting for the midterm election, with the county being just 4,000 votes, or 18.3 percent, shy of the early voting turnout seen during the 2016 presidential election, a total of 24,038 votes.

“It is (a record) for a midterm election,” Baxter told The Daily Herald on Monday.

An estimated 1.3 million Tennesseans have turned out to cast their votes early or send in their absentee ballots, reaching more than 200 percent of 2014′s turnout and reaching 80 percent of the 2016 presidential election, according to The Associated Press.

On the national level, more than 35 million Americans have cast their early ballots for the midterm election, surpassing 2014′s 28.3 million with voter enthusiasm thought to be at its highest level during any midterm in more than two decades

Texas, Nevada and Arizona all surpassed total turnout in the most recent midterm election, and estimates predicted another 60 million would vote on Election Day.

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