VOL. 123 | NO. 203 | Thursday, October 16, 2008
Early Voting Under Way in Tennessee
By ERIK SCHELZIG | Associated Press Writer
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Voters took to the polls Wednesday as Tennessee kicked off its two-week early voting period.
About 45 percent of the state's votes were cast early in the last presidential election in 2004, and State Election Coordinator Brook Thompson said this year's percentage could be higher because there are more sites and some counties have expanded hours.
Tennessee's total of nearly 4 million registered voters includes more than 360,000, or 9 percent, who have registered for the first time this year.
The new registrations have contributed to a shake-up in which region of the state has the most potential voters. In the 2004 election, East Tennessee edged the middle section of the state by about 1,700 registered.
But this year, Middle Tennessee has about 1.5 million registered, about 77,000 more than the East. West Tennessee remains third with about 1 million.
Early voting runs through Oct. 30 and Election Day is Nov. 4.
Democratic Gov. Phil Bredesen planned to join state Senate candidate Becky Ruppe in an early voting rally in Huntsville, while former U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill First was scheduled to host an event in Knoxville for Ruppe's Republican rival, Ken Yager.
The largely rural Senate District 12 seat that Yager and Ruppe are vying for is among a handful of races that both parties have targeted to help break a 16-16 tie in the Senate.
Long lines greeted voters in Clarksville as the polls opened, the Leaf Chronicle newspaper reported. Incumbent Sen. Rosalind Kurita, who had her narrow primary win stripped by state Democratic Party officials last month, had two trucks in the parking lot with large signs touting her write-in campaign.
Clarksville attorney Tim Barnes, who lost the primary by 19 votes, is the Democratic nominee in Senate District 22. No Republican is running.
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