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Sullivan early voter turnout heavy

July 29th, 2014 9:17 am by J. H. Osborne

Sullivan early voter turnout heavy

Willard Caudill studies the sample ballot recently before voting at the Kingsport Civic Auditorium.(photo by David Grace)

BLOUNTVILLE — If you want to avoid election day lines on Aug. 7 — and Administrator of Elections Jason Booher says there surely will be lines — you have a few more days to cast an early ballot.

Early voting for the Aug. 7 elections — which include party primaries for state and federal offices, as well as the county general election — continues through Aug. 2.

That's Saturday.

Early voting, which does not take place on Sundays, began July 18.

By Monday, the ninth day of early voting, 7,972 voters had cast ballots — up from 7,276 at the same point of early voting in August 2010.

August 2010 was the last comparable election, because the county general election occurs every four years.

The August 2012 ballot was the last time party primaries included state representative races.

This is the longest ballot, however, since 2006, due to the inclusion of judicial retention questions.

"There hasn't been any wait or lines during the first week of early voting," Booher said. "Despite going from 86 voting machines in 2006 to 210 currently, we do expect lines on Election Day. We strongly encourage voters to cast their ballot during early voting if they want to avoid having to stand in line."

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 increased turnout is overwhelmingly in Kingsport, according to daily figures released by Booher.

The 2nd District 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 primary.

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).

Sample ballots are available at scelect.org.

Early voting is offered at three locations: the Sullivan County Election Office in Blountville; the Kingsport Civic Auditorium; and the National Guard Armory in Bristol.

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