Early voting starts Friday for Aug. 2 elections

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

From staff reports

Voters may start casting ballots on Friday in Marshall County's Aug. 2 general election and the political parties' primaries also held that Thursday.

"Early voting is a convenient way for voters to be sure their voices are heard," County Elections Administrator Tristan Arnold said. "With this kind of flexibility, I hope that our voters will not miss this opportunity to exercise their right to vote."

Early voting will be conducted at the Marshall County Election Commission office located at the Hardison Office Annex, 230 College, St., Suite 120. County voters may contact the election office at 359-4894 for more about early voting hours. Early voting ends Saturday, July 28.

Meanwhile, Tuesday was the deadline for candidates' campaign financial disclosure statements for the second quarter, and Monday and Tuesday were when election poll workers were trained on how to receive and assist voters to voting machines.

Four years ago, there was a similar election and Arnold anticipates an increase in voter turnout this year. In August 2008, only 6.25 percent of the registered voters in Marshall County cast ballots.

There are now 18,104 Marshall County residents who are registered to vote in the county's Aug 2 general election as well as the political parties' primaries to select candidates for the November election.

Among those 18,104 voters are 13,990 who are deemed active, meaning they've voted in recent elections. Then there are 4,114 people with names on the voter registration rolls who are considered inactive voters, meaning they've not done anything in recent years to indicate that they're still here.

Those described as inactive voters may cast a ballot in the county general and the state primaries, but if they do nothing their status as a registered voter here would be placed on a list later this year as a group of names that could be purged, or removed from the list of registered voters, in January 2015.

To avoid that, Arnold says, "They can cast a ballot or update their registration with our office."

That would show that the individual is still interested in voting here.

"Most of these people have moved," Arnold. "These are people for whom we've sent a new voter registration card and it was returned to our office by the postal service as undeliverable and so they're placed on inactive voter status."

Anyone who did come to vote could fill out a Failsafe Affidavit to update their address so they're properly registered to vote. This may or may not cause them to be placed in a different precinct to vote. It's advisable to know which precinct to vote at to avoid travel time from one polling place to another on Election Day.

Arnold believes that there will be a higher percentage of voters casting ballots in the Aug. 2 election compared to the percentage of people who voted in August of 2008, the most recent comparable election.

There were 1,097 people voting in August of 2008, she said.

Arnold was asked how many people were registered to vote in that election and the primaries that day.

"Our system will not pull the number of registered voters as of a certain date," Arnold replied, providing previous reports in 2008 that were fairly close. "The number of registered voters as of May 31, 2008 was 17,181. The number of registered voters as of Nov. 30, 2008 was 17,901."

An average of the May and November figures on registered voters in 2008 is 17,541, indicating a voter turnout of 6.25 percent.

Voters should remember that they must present a state or federal issued photo identification card in order to vote in person, whether during early voting or on Election Day.

Examples of acceptable forms of ID, whether current or expired, include driver licenses, U.S. passports, Department of Safety photo ID cards, U.S. military photo IDs and other state or federal government photo ID cards. College student IDs are not acceptable.

If you would like more information about early voting or the new law, call 1-877-850-4959 or visit the state Division of Elections Web site at www.GoVoteTN.com.