Early voting in Sullivan County for the Feb. 5 presidential primaries expands today to satellite locations in Kingsport and Bristol.
Sample ballots can be found in today’s Times-News, pages 14A and 15A, as well as online at www.scecweb.org.
Registered county voters can cast an early ballot at any of three early voting locations, no matter where they live.
Early voting locations for Sullivan County voters are: the county’s election offices in Blountville; the Kingsport Civic Auditorium; and the YWCA in Bristol.
Hours at all three locations are: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. today; 9 a.m. to noon Saturday; and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Jan. 28-31.
There’s usually an upswing in early voting once the Kingsport and Bristol satellite sites open, Sullivan County Administrator of Elections Gena Frye said Thursday.
“The satellite locations always attract a lot of people because it’s more convenient,” Frye said. “And given the unpredictable weather we may face February 5th, it’s a good opportunity for people to come vote. I’ve noticed an increased interest in the last few days, and I think early voting is really going to take off.”
In Sullivan County, nearly 84,000 voters are eligible to cast ballots in either the Republican primary or Democratic primary, both on Feb. 5.
Voters must pick one primary or the other — you cannot vote in both.
As of poll closing Thursday, a total of 707 voters had cast early ballots in person since early voting began last week.
Absentee ballots that have come in to date bring the total number of early ballots cast to more than 1,100, according to unofficial numbers provided by Frye:
•As of Thursday afternoon, a total of 416 absentee ballots had been recorded.
•In all, election officials have supplied absentee ballots to more than 700 voters who applied for them. The 416 figure is how many have been voted and returned.
•As of Thursday afternoon, more ballots had been cast for the Democratic primary than the Republican primary.
Before early voting began, election officials across the state voiced concerns that the Republican ballot — which includes not only candidates for the party’s nomination for president, but also nearly 100 potential delegates for various candidates — would require more time for some voters.
Frye said it hasn’t been an issue, yet, locally — at least based on feedback from those who’ve cast ballots so far.
In-person early voting began Jan. 16, with 117 voters casting ballots. It snowed the next day and turnout dropped to 56. The numbers have since rebounded, reaching a to-date high of 143 on Wednesday. On Thursday, 132 early ballots were cast.
Local election officials have attempted in recent weeks to raise public awareness of absentee voting options. If you’re over 65, you can request an absentee ballot without any further explanation. The last day to apply for an absentee ballot is Tuesday, Jan. 29. Absentee voters must return their completed ballot to the Election Commission by mail, and such ballots must be received no later than Election Day.
Newly registered voters who registered by mail must vote in person the first time they vote.
When coming to the polls, either in early voting or on Election Day, all voters should bring some form of identification, Frye said.