Monday is final day to register to vote in Sullivan

J. H. Osborne • Oct 4, 2008 at 12:00 AM

BLOUNTVILLE — Tennessee residents who want to verify their voter registration status can do so online, Sullivan County Administrator or Elections Gena Frye said Friday.

Frye said a link was added last week to the Sullivan County Election Commission’s Web site, at www.scecweb.org, to help people access a statewide database maintained by the Tennessee Department of State.

Monday is the last day to register and be eligible to vote in the upcoming election. The last day to request an absentee ballot is Oct. 28.

Frye said in recent weeks there’s been a flurry of inquiries from Sullivan County residents seeking to either register or verify their registration status in recent weeks.

Since June 1, nearly 5,700 voter registrations have been processed by Sullivan County Election Office staff.

As of Friday afternoon, there were 88,891 registered voters in Sullivan County — up from 88,378 a week earlier, and up from 83,197 at the end of May.

“And we’ve processed about 1,100 requests for absentee ballots,” Frye said.

According to information on file with the Sullivan County Election Commission:

•For the November 2006 mid-term election, there were 89,368 registered voters in Sullivan County. Of the 46,463 who voted in that election, 26,150 cast early ballots.

•For the November 2004 election — the nation’s most recent presidential election — there were 89,052 registered voters in Sullivan County. Of the 63,391 who voted in that election, 30,605 cast early ballots.

•For the presidential election prior to that — November 2000 — there were 86,274 registered voters in Sullivan County. Of the 56,422 who voted in that election, 17,654 cast early ballots.

Frye said the level of interest in registration could mean a heavy turnout at the polls, including a lot of first-time voters or voters who haven’t voted since the last presidential election four years ago.

And that, Frye said, means this Election Day will be the first time some voters see the type of voting machines used by Sullivan County the past couple of years — and that could slow them down.

Voters who cast early ballots in Sullivan County will not use the machines, but will use paper ballot and optical scan equipment.

Early voting begins in Sullivan County on Oct. 15 and ends Oct. 30. Early voting sites include:

•the Kingsport Civic Auditorium;

•the YWCA in Bristol;

•and the Election Office in Blountville.

Paper ballots will be used by all voters at all early voting locations.

State law mandates that all counties use optical-scan voting systems, with paper ballots, no later than November 2010.

Frye said use of paper ballots — the system that was used during early voting for the elections in August — could make early voting a more speedy option than going to the polls on Election Day this time around.

“From what I’ve observed, people seem to be able to do the paper ballots a little quicker,” Frye said last month. “They seem a little more confident about what they’re doing, where with the voting machines it’s a piece of equipment that they don’t use very often. You’ll find with the presidential election, there are people who only vote every four years — so they will have never seen the electronic voting equipment we use now. That could slow things down somewhat on Election Day.”

Other things to consider: Early voting usually provides easier parking situations, and early voting hours have been expanded. The schedule is from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.

More information about registration, early voting and the Nov. 4 election is available at www.scecweb.org.

The Sullivan County Election Commission is located at 3258 Highway 126, Suite 103, Blountville.

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