By Clint Confehr
Senior Staff Writer
Thursday is the last day to vote early in city, state and federal elections for president, lawmakers and Chapel Hill's referendum on whether liquor stores should be permitted in that north Marshall County town.
As of Tuesday morning, 4,600 Marshall County residents had voted, according to County Elections Administrator Tristan Arnold. Some 490 voted early the first day. The early voting poll in the county's Hardison Office Annex on College Street is open 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
"I would hope that there would be more people voting early than on Election Day, just because it's more convenient for the voter," Arnold said Tuesday. "Typically, it eliminates people having to wait in line when they vote early."
While the nation is voting for either President Barack Obama or former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, key races to be decided in this area are for Congress and the state House.
Two Lewisburg residents, Vicki Cain and Billy Spivey, face off in the new 93rd District for a seat in the state House of Representatives. Eddie Bass currently represents Marshall County in the state House, but redistricting by state lawmakers using the 2010 Census changed lines.
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais of Jasper is being challenged by state Sen. Eric Stewart of Winchester for a congressional district that was also redrawn because reapportionment is required by the Constitution.
State Sen. Jim Tracy of Shelbyville is running unopposed to represent Marshall County which, for 10 years, has been represented by state Sen. Bill Ketron of Murfreesboro. Ketron continues in office but in a newly-drawn district that does not include Marshall County. The district that Tracy has served was changed to include Marshall County.
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker is running for re-election. Mark E. Clayton is Corker's Democratic challenger.
County election commissioners granted a request from Chapel Hill's Board of Mayor and Aldermen for a referendum on liquor stores.
Package stores for beer sales were permitted several years ago.
The referendum was sought as town leaders decided to leave the property tax rate the same when reappraisal and falling property values prompted the state to set the town's certified property tax rate higher. As such, the referendum is also a revenue issue.
Chapel Hill leaders also sought to have a satellite polling place for early voting, but election commissioners could not grant that request.
"We did not have enough voting machines this election to have early voting in Chapel Hill," Arnold explained. "The ones allocated for early voting can't be used on Election Day."
Asked if there seemed to be more Chapel Hill residents voting early now, compared to previous elections, Arnold replied, "Historically, Chapel Hill voters vote on Election Day, just because of the location."