|Early votes may rival 2008 totals|
|Thursday, February 23, 2012|
By PATRICK HALL
With only a few days remaining in early voting, 1,740 people have cast their votes during the early period, and Wilson County Administrator of Elections said they have experienced no issues with the new Voter Photo ID law.
So far, an average of 193 voters have participated in early voting in Wilson County, and Warren was optimistic the total could come close to equaling the number of votes cast early during the 2008 Presidential Preferential Primary. The daily average includes senior citizen votes the Election Commission tallied before early voting began.
“It may be close, it’s picked up quite a bit the past few days,” Warren said.
In 2008, approximately 4,000 votes were cast early, but in that primary, there was a wealth of candidates to choose from in both parties. That year there were eight Democrats and nine Republicans on the ballot.
This year, there are once again nine Republicans, but only one Democrat, President Barack Obama on the ballot. With the President seeking a second term, many Democrats may not see the point in turning out to vote in the Primary Election. Through Wednesday, only 280 individuals identifying themselves as Democrats had voted early, compared to 1,460 Republicans.
On Thursday, Warren reported that 248 voters visited the polls and said the nice weather helped the turnout, but noted vote totals at the end of last week and early this week have been strong. Thursday marked the highest voter turnout for early voting so far this year.
This past Thursday, 205 votes were cast and 217 on Friday. The first Saturday of early voting proved to be a low point with only 109 votes tallied. However, the numbers picked up on Monday with 134 votes and Tuesday saw 205 individuals cast their vote. On Wednesday, 165 citizens voted early as well.
Warren said there have been no issues at any polling locations regarding the new Photo ID law, which requires registered voters to bring a valid government-issued photo ID with them to the polls for the first time.
“In all three locations, we haven’t had a single problem, it’s really been a non issue,” Warren said.
He attributed the lack of questions or problems to the Wilson County Election Commission’s efforts after the law was enacted in 2011 to educate the local community. Several open forums were held last year by the commission, offering citizens the chance to come in and ask questions.
“We really did a good job of educating everybody,” Warren said.
Early voting continues through Tuesday, Feb. 28, until the polls close at 6 p.m. that day. Warren also pointed out that day is also the last chance for anyone to request an Absentee Ballot for the Primary.
He noted anyone needing an Absentee Ballot can fill out a form at the Election Commission office and said it will be mailed to the voter. The voter must then cast a vote on the Absentee Ballot and mail it back to the commission office.
“We have to receive those by 7 p.m., the time the polls close, on March 6,” Warren said.
If you are unable to vote early, March 6 is the day to vote in the Primary at your normal polling location listed on your voter registration card. Warren said they will begin setting up all 36 polling locations on March 5.
Local voters can visit three locations for early voting including, the Wilson County Election Commission office at 228 E. Main Street in Lebanon, the Watertown Community Center on Sparta Pike and the Mt. Juliet Community Center at 1075 Charlie Daniels Pkwy.