Early voting ends in Sullivan County with 16 percent drop compared to 2014

J. H. Osborne • Apr 28, 2018 at 12:30 PM

BLOUNTVILLE — Overall, turnout for early voting — which ended Thursday in Sullivan County for party primaries on Tuesday, May 1 — was down 16 percent countywide compared to the same election cycle four years ago, according to numbers released by the Sullivan County Election Commission.

The downturn was worst at the early voting location in Bristol, where it dropped 28 percent compared to the party primaries in May 2014. Turnout at the Sullivan County Election Office was down 18 percent. As is typical, the Kingsport Civic Auditorium had the largest early voting turnout, but still it, too, was down — by 10 percent compared to May 2014.

Early voting for Republican and Democratic party primaries began April 11 at the Sullivan County Election Commission office in Blountville and April 19 at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium and National Guard Armory in Bristol. It ended at all locations on April 26.

Early voting totals

Blountville: 2,972 in-person early ballots were cast (2,878 Republican and 94 Democratic).

Bristol: 1,077 in-person early ballots were cast (1,004 Republican and 73 Democratic).

Kingsport: 3,055 in-person early ballots were cast (2,950 Republican and 105 Democratic).

Countywide total: 7,104 in-person early ballots were cast (6,832 Republican and 272 Democratic).

Who won?

That’s a trick question. The results of early voting are not known to anyone, including election officials, until close of polls on Election Day.

Early voting’s importance

In Sullivan County, early voting has become increasingly popular over the years: In the May 2014 party primaries, nearly 53.5 percent of the total ballots cast were cast during early/absentee voting; in the county general election in August of that year, the number rose to nearly 58 percent; and in the 2016 presidential election, nearly 71.09 percent of ballots were cast early.

What’s at stake:

Almost every major office in county government is on the ballot for the county’s general election in August. Several races, however, will be decided in the Republican Party primary because there are no Democrats or independents seeking those offices. As a result of the number of incumbents not seeking reelection, this election will lead to the largest turnover in county government in recent memory.

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