Voters line up to cast early ballots at the election office in Blountville. David Grace photo.
BLOUNTVILLE — Early voting for May 6 party primaries begins today in Kingsport (at the city's Civic Auditorium) and Bristol (at the National Guard Armory).
Early voting began at the Sulllivan County Election Office in Blountville on April 16, and as of close of business Wednesday, had drawn a much higher turnout than during the same period four years ago.
Early voting will continue at all three locations through May 1.
As of close of business Wednesday, 1,986 early ballots had been cast, compared to 1,200 during the same period in 2010, Sullivan County Administrator of Elections Jason Booher said.
Of the 1,986 early ballots cast to date, 1,813 were in the Republican party primary, and 173 were in the Democratic party primary, Booher said.
The race for two of Sullivan County's top offices will be decided in the Republican primary because in those races, no one is running as a Democrat or independent.
Voters will decide May 6 on the county's next mayor (Steve Godsey or Richard Venable) and county attorney (Alice Alexander, John K. Gillenwater or Dan Street).
Other key races on the Republican primary ballot include county sheriff (Wayne Anderson or Ty Boomershine) and county highway commissioner (Jim Belgeri, Dwight King, or Bobbie Manning).
Other races included in the primaries include the bulk of offices in Sullivan County government, such as county trustee, register of deeds, county clerk, circuit court clerk, property assessor and — at least on the GOP side of the ticket — all 24 seats on the Sullivan County Commission.
In Tennessee, voters do not register by party and state law permits an "open" primary process — a voter completes an application for ballot and selects the primary of his or her choosing in a primary election like the one scheduled May 6.
Tennessee law directs that a voter is entitled to vote in a party primary if: the voter is a bona fide member of and affiliated with the political party in whose primary the voter seeks to vote; or at the time the voter seeks to vote, the voter declares allegiance to the political party in whose primary the voters seeks to vote and states that the voter intends to affiliate with that party.
Booher said no voter in Sullivan County has ever been challenged at the polls due to questions about party affiliation.
If a candidate places poll watchers at the polling place — something they have the right to do but must provide advance notice of their intentions — those poll watchers do have the right to question a voter's allegiance to the party in question.
The Democratic party primary ballot can be found here: http://www.scelect.org/ may2014demsampleballot.pdf
The Republican party primary ballot can be found here: http://www.scelect.org/ may2014repsampleballot.pdfcomments powered by Disqus