NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) - The sun had long since set over a library in southeast Nashville on Thursday as dozens of people still stood in line waiting to cast their ballots ahead of next week's mid-term election. By the time the final voter cast their ballot here, the time was 10:15 p.m.
It was a trend seen across the state. According to the Secretary of State, an estimated 1.3 million people voted early, a number that has shattered previous state records.
Williams, Loudon, Rutherford, Wilson and Davidson Counties all had the highest rate of turnout among registered voters. While those percentages were high, they still did not meet levels seen during the 2016 presidential election.
Millions of dollars have been spent of two hotly contested state-wide races over the last few months. Marsha Blackburn and Phil Bredesen are both vying to fill Senator Bob Corker soon to be vacant seat. Their campaigns both released final television ads this week in a race that by most polls still appears to be to close to call.
Determining what those early voting numbers means though, is not quite as simple as looking at the numbers themselves.
"There’s always a question as to what extent does it add to the voting turnout overall or what extent does it just displace votes that might have come in on election day," says Nathan Griffith, an Associate Professor at Belmont University.
Griffith says that in both the gubernatorial race and the Senate race, turnout will be key, "Parties need voters to turn out, they need their voters to turn out."