VOL. 126 | NO. 41 | Tuesday, March 1, 2011
Early Voting Barely Eclipses 3 Percent
By Bill Dries
Votes approached the 13,000 mark through the last weekend of the early voting period in advance of the March 8 Election Day for the schools consolidation referendum.
Early voting across the city in the referendum and a one-candidate special election race for District 98 state representative ends Thursday evening.
The early vote total through Saturday – 12,948 – represents 3.1 percent of the city’s 420,423 voters.
Statistics from the Shelby County Election Commission show 48 percent of the early voters are black, 30 percent are white and the remaining 22 percent are “other,” a category that includes voters who do not indicate their race on voter registration forms.
More than half – 56 percent – of the early voters are women.
A breakdown of voters through Friday by the Election Day precinct they live in shows the highest precinct turnout by percentage is 8.9 percent or 132 voters who live around Glenview Community Center, 1411 S. Barksdale St. The community center is also an early voting site.
The next highest precinct turnout was the 6.6 percent turnout for those living near Lakeview Elementary School, 5132 Jonetta St.
Havenview Middle School in Whitehaven, 1481 Hester Road, rounded out the top three precincts with a 6 percent turnout.
Thursday is the last day to early vote. Election Day for the schools consolidation referendum is Tuesday, March 8.
The lowest turnout was in the Eads precinct that includes part of the city but votes at the Fisherville Civic Club, 12017 Macon Road. Only two voters from the precinct had voted early through Friday.
The next lowest turnout was in the Raleigh precinct that votes at Living Word Fellowship Church, 4405 Stage Road. Four voters from that precinct cast early ballots.
But the percentages don’t always tell the whole story for turnout because of the wide range of precinct populations.
By votes cast, the highest turnout through Friday was from those in the Graves Elementary School precinct, 3398 Graves Road, with 239 voters. Second highest was 215 voters from the precinct that votes on Election Day at Kirby Woods Baptist Church, 6325 Poplar Ave., and the third highest turnout was the 183 voters who live in the Havenview Middle School precinct.
Early voting’s last day will be a busy one for the issue.
Former Washington schools chancellor Michelle Rhee will be in Memphis to speak that evening to The Economic Club of Memphis. Rhee is founder and CEO of StudentsFirst, a political group involved in education reform issues.
The National Civil Rights Museum will host a forum that same evening. The forum is scheduled to include University of Memphis professor David Kiel, whose 2008 study on the impact of special schools district status for Shelby County Schools has been cited by opponents and backers of schools consolidation.
As that is happening, the city of Bartlett will host a meeting to review the numbers for that city possibly forming a municipal school district.
Under state legislation passed last month, the ban on such school districts in Shelby County would be lifted if Memphis voters approve the surrender of the Memphis City Schools charter and the consolidation of MCS with Shelby County Schools.
Bartlett Mayor Keith McDonald has said such a district just for Bartlett would involve the city buying 11 school buildings from the Shelby County Schools system with a total net book value of $62 million.