Early Voting Tops 7,000 in County Primaries Through Saturday

By Bill Dries

More than 7,000 citizens voted early in Shelby County through the first weekend of the early voting period in the 2018 county government primaries.

The 7,255 early voters in advance of the May 1 election day through Saturday, April 14, are voting in a primary only election with 3,983 voting in the Democratic primaries and 3,272 voting in the Republican primaries.

The Shelby County Election Commission turnout numbers include a breakdown of early voters by the county commission districts they live in. And by that standard, it shows a higher turnout in suburban areas of the county.

Commission District 4, which is the city of Germantown, south Cordova, Southwind and Windkyke tallied 791 early voter Saturday, District 1 – Millington, Arlington, Rosemark, Shelby Forest and other unincorporated areas of north Shelby County posted 749 early voters. And District 3, which covers Bartlett, Lakeland and Raleigh turned out 717 early voters with 712 early voters in District 13, which is East Memphis.

Districts 1 and 3 have no incumbent seeking re-election – all four are represented by Republican commissioners.

Comparisons to the early voter turnout for past elections is difficult because past early voting periods, in most cases, did not see all early voting sites open until the first full week of the period. The early voting period began Wednesday and runs through April 26.

That was the case in the 2014 and 2010 May primaries which are the two most recent election in the same cycle of offices.

In the May 2014 elections, if you count the first four days of early voting with all 21 early voting sites open and subtract the early and absentee voters from the week before when the Downtown site was the only early voting site open, the result is 6,990 early voters.

Applying the same method to the early vote for the November 2016 ballot topped by the presidential general election – the most popular election cycle in Shelby County politics by voter turnout – there were just over 10,000 early voters. That election cycle is the only one in Shelby County politics that consistently draws more than half of the county’s voters.

The overall voter turnout – early and election day – for this election cycle since the first county primaries for these offices in 1994 has never been more than 18 percent.

Early voters can cast their ballots at any of the 21 locations thru April 26 regardless of what precinct they live in.

By early voting location, White Station Church of Christ in East Memphis had the highest turnout through Saturday with 547 voters followed by 508 at New Bethel Baptist Church in Germantown and 485 at Baker Community Center in Millington.