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VOL. 124 | NO. 196 | Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Blacks, Women Strongest Early Voters

By Bill Dries

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Early voting in the special election for Memphis mayor cracked the 25,000 mark over the weekend.

The total through Saturday was 6 percent of the 432,770 eligible voters in Memphis as well as those in parts of suburban Shelby County who will be voting in the special election primaries for state Senate District 31.

Unofficial turnout statistics from the Shelby County Election Commission show just more than half – 51.3 percent – of the early voters are black. Another 28.4 percent are white and 20.3 percent are listed as “other,” which includes voters who did not indicate their race on voter registration forms.

More than half – 62.4 percent – of the early voters were women.

The final stretch

The early votes won’t be counted until the Oct. 15 Election Day and will be split among a record field of 25 contenders for Memphis mayor. Each of the state Senate primary contests is uncontested and turnout is expected to be miniscule.

The campaigns of Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton Jr. and attorney Charles Carpenter have vans and phone banks working to get their supporters to the early voting locations through Saturday.

Go to www.shelbyvote.com for a list of early voting locations and their hours.

Once early voting ends Saturday, the active campaigns will shift their focus to getting out Election Day traditionalists and supporters late in making their decisions.

A recent and controversial Mason-Dixon poll that put Wharton in a comfortable lead over his opponents also showed at least 20 percent of the 400 people polled were undecided.

Memphis Mayor Pro Tem Myron Lowery is trying to claim some of the undecided votes this week as he takes a plan for redevelopment of the Mid-South Fairgrounds to a City Council committee. However, any council vote on the plan would not come until after Election Day.

Inside the numbers

The turnout figures show which precincts early voters live in.

By those standards, the highest-precinct turnout in early voting so far has been from those who live around and vote at Glenview Community Center on Election Day. But reading motives into such turnout figures can be tricky.

Glenview is one of the early voting sites as well, which could explain why 18 percent of the precinct’s 1,500 total voters have already cast their ballots.

The second-highest precinct turnout so far is in 75-05, which votes at Lakeview Elementary School on Election Day. The Westwood precinct has turned out 11.5 percent of its 2,372 voters so far.

Close behind is 65-01 in East Memphis, which votes at Harding Academy on Cherry Road on Election Day. A little more than 11 percent of the voters in that precinct made it to early voting.

Other precincts with 10 percent turnouts included 49-02, which votes at Pine Hill Community Center in South Memphis; 59-03 at Salem Gilfield Baptist Church at 3176 Kimball Ave. in the Cherokee section of Memphis; 65-02 at Colonial Hearing and Vision Center, 1360 Colonial Road in East Memphis; 72-07 at Scenic Hills United Methodist Church in the Scenic Hills section of Raleigh; 76-04 at Lanier Middle School and 79-02 at Havenview Junior High School, both in Whitehaven; and 87-01 at Craigmont High School in Raleigh.

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