Early voting turnout is up nearly double 2017 figures, according to the Coffee County Election Commission.
According to Administrator of Elections Andy Farrar, a total of 864 people cast their ballots from July 12 – 27 during early voting to fill two city board seats.
During the last Tullahoma-only election in 2017, there were fewer than 500 early ballots cast.
“The final for [2017 early voting] was 486,” Farrar said.
Though one machine inside C.D. Stamps Community Center malfunctioned during the early voting period this year one, Farrar said all early votes were properly accounted for.
“The first day that we opened up, one of the machines did go down,” he said. “It was probably down for 45 minutes or so.”
Farrar said the machined was swapped out with a different one within the hour, and there weren’t any other problems during early voting.
The information stored on the malfunctioning machine is still secure, he added.
“Even if we have to replace a machine, everything transferred over,” he said. “Before it went down, we knew exactly how many people had voted [on it], and when brought up the new one, the same number of votes came up.”
After the election is over, Farrar said the company that supplies the voting machines will send a technician out to the election commission to look at and fix the machine that went down.
There are 11,612 total registered voters in Tullahoma, including those who live in the annexed portion of Franklin County, Farrar said, meaning early voting only accounts for 7% of the total voting population of the city.
Voter turnout is traditionally diminished in odd-year elections, Farrar said. Without highly publicized candidates for state or federal offices, people are less likely to vote, according to Farrar.
The 2018 midterm elections saw 9,631 voters cast their ballots during the early voting period, he said. That year, more than half the total voter turnout took place during the early voting period, Farrar added. The county-wide elections saw more than 16,000 people cast their ballots in total.
Despite the 7% turnout thus far, Farrar said he was still encouraged to see the 2019 early voting total higher than the 2017 figure.
“I was looking at some of the numbers going back to 2017, and I thought a good increase [for this year] would be around 750, and we exceeded that,” he said.
Only 1,003 people voted in the 2017 municipal election, Farrar said. That was a little less than 10% of the total voting population of Tullahoma.
This year, Farrar anticipates a higher percentage of votes to be cast.
“Anything over 10 percent for this Tullahoma only election will be an increase,” he said.
As in the past, Farrar said, the voting precincts with the largest number of early voters were District 15 (Grace Baptist Church) and District 16 (Lions Club).
“That’s the two largest precincts,” he said, so they will naturally have the largest number of voters, whether they vote early or on Election Day.
Statistically speaking, Farrar said the total number of votes in any election “tends to follow” those cast during the early voting period. When there is increased early voter turnout, Election Day turnout will also be increased, he said.
“If you keep that in mind, we’re looking at 1,500 or 1,600 voters,” he said for this year’s election.
If this year’s election reaches 1,600 total votes, it would equate to about a 13% voter turnout rate for Tullahoma.
Farrar said he wasn’t worried about the number of ballots cast so far, because many people enjoy waiting to cast their ballots on Election Day.
“A lot of people, they love to go vote on Election Day … and go to their precinct,” he said.
Election Day is tomorrow for the 10,748 remaining registered voters of Tullahoma. Polls open at 8 a.m. and will close at 7 p.m.
Here is where everyone will be voting tomorrow:
District 15 – Grace Baptist Church, 1901 Ovoca Rd.
District 16 – Lions Club – 408 Lions Club Lane
District 17 – National Guard Armory – 1402 E. Carroll St.
District 18 – First Christian Church – 120 W. Grundy St.
District 19 – C.D. Stamps Community Center – 810 S. Jackson St.
District 20 – Coffee County Senior Citizens Center – 410 N. Collins St.
District 21 – Wilson Avenue Church of Christ – 1401 Wilson Ave.
For information about your precinct or how to receive a provisional ballot, contact the Coffee County Election Commission at 931-723-5103.
Erin McCullough may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.