BLOUNTVILLE - Dozens of people cast ballots for city elections during the first week of early voting.
That's right: Dozens.
At about midday Thursday, Sullivan County Administrator of Elections Gena Frye said 65 people had cast ballots since early voting began April 26.
That figure includes voters from Kingsport, Bristol and Bluff City. All three cities will hold municipal elections May 15.
Frye expects turnout to pick up today as satellite early voting locations open in Kingsport and Bristol.
Registered voters from any of the cities can vote in their city's election at any early voting location. And Frye said the first few days of early voting in Blountville drew voters from each city.
But, she said, early voting in city elections is heaviest once the satellite locations open up.
Early voting 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 locations are:
â€¢Sullivan County Election Commission Office, 3258 Highway 126, Suite 103, Blountville.
â€¢Kingsport Civic Auditorium, 1550 Fort Henry Drive, Kingsport.
â€¢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.
The cities hold elections every two years.
Even though relatively few voters have turned out this time, early voting has become more and more popular, according to information from the Election Commission:
â€¢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.
â€¢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.
â€¢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.
â€¢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.
â€¢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.
For more information call the Election Office at 323-6444 or visit www.sullivancounty.org/ and click on the Election Office link.