Tennessee Sets Early, Absentee Voting Record

Posted at 6:58 AM, Nov 04, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-04 19:39:10-04

Election officials said Tennessee set a record for early and absentee voting.

Secretary of State Tre Hargett said almost 1.7 million people voted early in person or by mail, topping the record of almost 1.6 million during the 2008 presidential election.

"I think what it's really about is you have two presidential candidates that people have really strong feelings about and they're ready to make their feelings known," Hargett said. 

But not every county hit its record. The two largest, Shelby and Davidson, were tens of thousands of votes short.

Secretary Hargett thinks it's a matter of convenience, and that the urban cores of the state will get there on election day.

"Instead of going to one of the satellite site they have a precinct just down the street from them, (and) they might wait til November 8th," Hargett said.

But NewsChannel 5 Political Analyst Pat Nolan thinks politics may have a lot to do with it.

He says Tennessee is Trump territory. Even against other Republicans, "The Donald" took every county in the primaries except one. And that affects voter perceptions.

"There may be some situations in the urban areas which tend to be a little more Democratic, and Tennessee was going to be a Trump state," Nolan said, "so their vote wasn't going to make much of a difference. Of course I'm sure both parties would disagree with that - they want everyone to vote."

Some Nashville voters were in line for hours Thursday, the last early voting day.

Davidson County Election Commission spokeswoman Nancy DeKalb said the last ballot at the Southeast Community Center was cast just before 10 p.m. Central.

Tennessee voters in line before the 7 p.m. cutoff could wait around to vote.

DeKalb said the last vote at another location, the Green Hills Library, came just before 9 p.m.

About 174,500 people cast early and absentee ballots in Davidson County, more than in 2012, but less than in 2008.

To view early voting numbers statewide and by county for the 2016 presidential election, click here.

To find your polling place, click here. You can also download the Go Vote TN app, which will also show your sample ballot before you reach the polls.