VOL. 131 | NO. 213 | Tuesday, October 25, 2016
Local Early Vote Turnout Tops 56,600
By Bill Dries
More than 56,000 citizens voted early in Shelby County over the first four days of the early voting period in advance of the Nov. 8 general election.
More than 56,000 citizens voted early in advance of the Nov. 8 election through Saturday. Early voting runs through Nov. 3 at 21 locations across Shelby County.
(Daily News File/Andrew J. Breig)
The 56,614 early voters is a bit ahead of the early voting pace in the presidential general election of 2012 and a bit behind the pace in 2008.
Shelby County Election Commission data posted as of Monday, Oct. 23, did not identify which precincts the early voters live in, which would give some clues as to whether the turnout is favoring Democrats or Republicans.
In Tennessee, voters do not include party preference when they register to vote and since there are no primaries on the general election ballot, it is more difficult to tell whose partisans are showing up in greater numbers. But suburban early voting sites were doing the most business. Early voting runs through Nov. 3.
The vote count at the 21 individual early voting sites through Friday shows White Station Church of Christ in East Memphis is the most popular site with 2,979 early voters, followed by Bethel Church in Bartlett with 2,930; New Bethel Church in Germantown at 2,860; Collierville Church of Christ with 2,858 and 2,826 early ballots cast through Friday at Agricenter International.
Citizens can vote at any of the 21 early voting sites across the county regardless of where they live in Shelby County.
The local Trump and Clinton campaigns each expect former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to carry Shelby County because of the large Democratic base in Memphis and Donald Trump to take Tennessee and its 11 electoral votes.
The Republican base in Shelby County outside Memphis is part of the base that has made Tennessee a red state since the 2000 presidential general election.
Through the first four days of early voting in 2012, 53,658 citizens voted in Shelby County toward an overall early voter turnout of 232,691. Early voting accounted for 62.7 percent of the 371,109 votes cast countywide in the presidential match up between incumbent Democrat Barack Obama and Republican challenger Mitt Romney.
In 2008, 58,171 early votes had been cast in Shelby County through the first four days of the early voting period. The 254,362 early votes cast in 2008 accounted for 64 percent of the county’s total voter turnout of 404,180.
The 2008 and 2012 presidential general elections posted 61 and 62 percent voter turnouts, respectively.
Unlike in 2008, there are not statewide general elections for governor or U.S. Senate on the November ballot in Shelby County and Tennessee. It’s an election cycle that comes around once every 12 years.
The absence of those races makes it more difficult to gauge who is turning out and when they are turning out, even as both Democrats and Republicans already agree on the eventual outcome.
In 2008, for instance, Republican U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander got more votes in Shelby County than Republican presidential contender John McCain.
The last presidential general election in Tennessee without a race for U.S. senator or governor was in 2004 and Shelby County turnout – election day and early voting – was 57 percent – the lowest turnout total in a presidential general election in 48 years for that election cycle.
Shelby County turnout in the 1992 presidential general election, which also did not feature a race for governor or U.S. Senate, was 73.1 percent.
And the turnout in the 1980 presidential general election was 74.2 percent in Shelby County – the highest percentage turnout in 48 years for an election cycle without a race for governor or U.S. Senate. In the 1980 election, Republican challenger Ronald Reagan beat Democratic incumbent Jimmy Carter. In 1992, Democratic challenger Bill Clinton beat Republican incumbent George H.W. Bush.