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VOL. 129 | NO. 81 | Friday, April 25, 2014

Early Voting Goes Countywide Friday

By Bill Dries

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Early voting in advance of the May 6 county primary election day opens Friday, April 25, at 20 satellite locations across Shelby County.

The Shelby County Election Commission’s voting machines will be in use at sites throughout the county beginning Friday, as early voting kicks off.

(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)

A list of the locations can be found at www.shelbyvote.com. Polls are open weekdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through the end of the early voting period Thursday, May 1.

Voters from anywhere in the county can vote at any of the 21 locations.

Through Tuesday, April 22, 1,395 citizens had cast early ballots at the Shelby County Election Commission’s Downtown office, the only early voting location open before Friday.

So far, the early vote turnout is lower than at this point four years ago.

Election commissioners earlier this month discussed possibly moving the central early voting site in future elections, following complaints from Democratic candidates and partisans that the Downtown location involves paying to park and isn’t centrally located.

Democratic contenders Deidre Malone and Henri Brooks, running in primary races for Shelby County mayor and Juvenile Court clerk respectively, charged that the nine days of early voting at the single Downtown location is a plan by the majority-Republican Election Commission to “suppress” the Memphis vote in the countywide primaries.

Through Tuesday, 75.7 percent of early voters voted in the Democratic primary, with the remaining 24.3 percent voting in the Republican primary.

No general elections are on the ballot, only primary contests in which winners advance to the August county general election.

In the election year that features the longest ballot on any election cycle in August, the 100-foot limit for campaign signs and campaigning around 157 Poplar Ave. has drawn walls of signs that block the view of pedestrians and traffic on Poplar at Second and Third streets to those entering and exiting parking lots at the building.

Tennessee law requiring early voting to open first at counties’ Election Commission offices was recently changed to allow for an alternate location.

Meanwhile, Malone rolled out a long list of endorsements Thursday, April 23, in the mayoral primary. Elected officials endorsing Malone include Memphis Mayor A C Wharton Jr., four state representatives from Memphis, six current and former Shelby County Commissioners and three former and current Memphis City Council members.

Malone is in a three-way race for the Democratic nomination with County Commissioner Steve Mulroy and former Shelby County Schools board member Kenneth Whalum Jr.

The winner is likely to face incumbent Republican Mayor Mark Luttrell in the August general election. Luttrell faces token opposition in the May primary from perennial contender Ernie Lunati.

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