BLOUNTVILLE - Early voting begins today for Bristol, Kingsport and Bluff City elections.
All three cities will hold municipal elections May 15, including some school board members in Kingsport and Bristol.
Registered voters from any of the three cities can early vote at the Sullivan County Election Commission's offices in Blountville beginning today.
Satellite locations will open in Bristol and Kingsport next week - and registered voters will then be able to vote at any one of the three locations.
The cities hold elections every two years.
Early voting has become more and more popular, according to information from the Sullivan County Election Commission:
•For the May 2003 elections, early or absentee voters accounted for about 28 percent - 2,495 of 8,980 - of those who went to the polls for the three cities' elections.
•Two years later, the figure jumped to nearly 33 percent - early or absentee voters accounted for 2,953 of 8,964 who went to the polls for the three cities' elections in May 2005.
•In 2003, about 29.2 percent of Kingsport voters who participated in the city's election either voted early or by absentee ballot. In 2005, the figure was more than 33.1 percent.
•In 2003, nearly 26 percent of Bristol voters who participated in the city's election either voted early or by absentee ballot. In 2005, the figure was more than 33 percent.
•In 2003, about 13 percent of Bluff City voters who participated in the city's election either voted early or by absentee ballot. In 2005, the figure was about 25.5 percent.
Early voting begins today at the Sullivan County Election Commission Office in Blountville and continues through May 10. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 9 a.m. until noon on Saturdays.
Early voting will begin at satellite locations on May 4 and continue through May 10, with the same hours as above.
Early voting locations are:
•Sullivan County Election Commission Office, 3258 Highway 126, Suite 103, Blountville.
•Kingsport Civic Auditorium, 1550 Fort Henry Drive, Kingsport.
•YWCA, 106 State St., Bristol, Tenn.
Seven days prior to the election is the deadline for requesting an application for absentee ballot - and the completed application must be returned to the Election Commission no later than five days before the election. Absentee ballots must be returned by mail only (no deliveries by hand) and must be received by the Election Commission by close of polls on Election Day.
For more information call 323-6444 or visit www.sullivancounty.org/ and click on the Election Office link.