Sullivan County election officials are urging voters to take advantage of the extra machines being set up for early voting in order to expedite the process. Times-News file photo by David Grace.
BLOUNTVILLE — Early voting for the Aug. 7 election and primaries begins July 18 and ends Aug. 2, at three locations: the Sullivan County Election Office in Blountville; the Kingsport Civic Auditorium; and the National Guard Armory in Bristol.
The county general election includes most county government offices, including county mayor, county sheriff, all 24 members of the Sullivan County Commission, highway commissioner, county trustee, register of deeds, and county clerk.
The party primaries are to choose nominees for state offices that are on the ballot in November.
The race for Tennessee House of Representatives, 2nd District, will be decided in the Republican party primary during this election. No one is running in the Democratic party primary.
A large portion of the 2nd District is in the city of Kingsport.
The race is between incumbent Tony Shipley, of Colonial Heights, and challenger Bud Hulsey, a former Kingsport police officer.
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 their choosing.
Election officials have said no voter in Sullivan County has ever been challenged at the polls due to questions about their party affiliation.
There are three choices of ballot before entering the voting booth: county general (only); Democratic Party Primary (which will automatically also give the voter access to the county general ballot); or Republican Party Primary (which will automatically also give the voter access to the county general ballot).
In other words, you can vote in one or the other of the party primaries and the county general election, or you can ask to simply vote in the county general election and not participate in either party p r i m a r y.
But no matter which party primary you choose to vote in, you will still be able to cast votes — for nominees of either party — on the county general ballot (for example, county trustee, register of deeds, or county clerk).
The August ballot also will include judicial retention questions, which come up every eight years.
"The last time voters experienced this lengthy ballot was in 2006," Administrator of Elections Jason Booher said last month. "Since then we have doubled the number of voting machines and increased the number of election officials in an effort to eliminate and at least reduce the time required for voters to cast their ballot. I would however strongly encourage voters to take advantage of Early Voting and study the ballot prior to appearing to vote." Sample ballots are available at scelect.org.
"We have never exceeded 12 voting machines at the Civic Auditorium during early voting and for this election we will double the number to 24 in order to make voting as efficient as possible," Booher said. "All early voting locations will be assigned more machines than any previous election."
Judicial retention questions can be somewhat confusing for voters, Booher said.
"The simple explanation is that voters are choosing to either retain or keep a judge or replace the judge," Booher said. "If the majority of voters choose to replace a judge then the governor would appoint someone new. Judicial retention elections do not offer multiple candidates like in a traditional race for elected office."