VOL. 130 | NO. 187 | Friday, September 25, 2015
Memphis Early Voting Turnout Up 76 Percent So Far
By Bill Dries
Early voting in the 2015 Memphis elections is running ahead of the pace from four years ago but behind the pace from 2007 and the special mayoral election of 2009.
The early voting period in advance of the Oct. 8 election day runs through Saturday, Oct. 3, at 16 locations across the city.
Through Wednesday, Sept. 23, the early vote totaled 15,858, with 3,453 early voters on Wednesday.
The turnout through Wednesday represents 4 percent of the city’s 395,348 voters.
Of the 15,858 early voters, 43.3 percent were black and 30.9 percent were white. The remaining 25.8 percent are listed as “other” indicating they could be multi-racial or Asian or Hispanic or did not indicate their race on their voter registration application.
Women made up 58.3 percent of the early vote so far.
By age, 50 percent of the early voters are age 65 or over and 25.8 percent are between the ages of 55 and 64. Voters aged 18-24 accounted for 1.2 percent of the early vote through Wednesday.
The early voting statistics from the Shelby County Election Commission include a new category that shows which Memphis City Council districts voters live in. By that category, the highest early voter turnout so far is in council Districts 5, 6 and 2, in that order.
District 5, which is the Midtown-East Memphis seat incumbent Jim Strickland is giving up to run for mayor, has accounted for 22.8 percent of the early vote, or 3,618 early voters.
District 6, which is the Whitehaven-South Memphis district in which incumbent Edmund Ford Jr. is seeking re-election, showed 2,713 early voters so far, or 17.1 percent of the early vote.
District 2 is the East Memphis-Cordova district where incumbent Bill Boyd is not seeking re-election. The 2,515 early votes there are 15.8 percent of the total ballots cast so far.
The 2015 early voting totals show overall voter turnout – absentee, early and election day – is likely to be larger than the 18 percent turnout in 2011.
The latest numbers represent a 76 percent increase compared to 2011, when, through the fifth day of early voting, 9,017 Memphians had cast early ballots. Memphis voters didn’t break the 15,000 mark until the start of the second and final week of the early voting period that election year.
There were 32,536 early votes cast during the entire early voting period in 2011.
But the 2015 early vote total was running behind the same period in 2007. Willie Herenton topped the ballot in that election, seeking his fifth and final term as mayor against 13 challengers, including Carol Chumney and Herman Morris.
In 2007, 18,970 citizens had cast early ballots at the end of the fifth day of early voting.
Overall voter turnout in 2007 was 37.7 percent with the early vote accounting for 16 percent of the total.
The elections were notable for the largest turnover of council seats – 9 of the 13 – to new members in the 47-year history of the mayor-council form of Memphis government.
Overall turnout in the October 2009 special election following Herenton’s resignation the previous July was 25 percent with Wharton winning easily in a field of 25 contenders, the largest ever for a Memphis mayor’s race.
The mayor’s race was the only one on the ballot.
By the fifth day of the early voting period, 17,798 citizens had cast early ballots toward a total early vote for the period of 49,288. The early vote accounted for 11.6 percent of the city’s voters.