UPDATE: This story has been updated to reflect correction of a typographical error in the number of absentee ballots mailed to date for the Aug. 6 county general and state primary election. The election commission reports 1,300 ballots have been mailed out, with 742 returned as of last Thursday.
Early voting continues at a brisk pace at the Cumberland County Election Commission office.
On Thursday afternoon, 2,914 voters had cast their ballots in the Aug. 6 county general and state primary election.
“Tennessee has a robust early voting period,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett during a visit to the Cumberland County Election Commission office Thursday. “The election officials have taken a lot of precautions to make sure the voting process is safe, secure and accessible.”
He encourages voters to take advantage of early voting, available through Saturday, at the election commission office, 2 S. Main St., Suite 105.
Polls are open 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday and 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.
Cumberland County Administrator of Elections Jill Davis said the office has seen steady turnout during the first week of voting. A tally on the door compares each day’s turnout with the county general and primary election held in August 2016. So far, in-person early voting is averaging about double those figures.
The floor on the hallway offers marks that help people waiting to vote maintain social distance outside the office. Hand sanitizer sits at the door to the office.
Inside, four clerks are ready to assist voters with their application for a ballot.
All voters must show a government-issued photo ID, like a driver’s license or passport.
The clerks wear masks and sit behind plastic glass shields installed by the county’s maintenance department. They clean their work space after each person. They offer a glove to use while signing the ballot.
Next, the voters go to the voting machines. There, workers have been provided face shields and wear masks.
Poll worker Mark Franklin explained the voting machines are wiped between each voter and everybody gets a glove to use while marking their electronic ballot.
“People are taking it seriously,” Franklin said of the safety precautions.
Hargett said turnout for in-person early voting has seen increases across the state when compared to 2016, and the state has seen a surge in absentee ballot applications. All voters can request an absentee ballot for the Aug. 6 election if they do not wish to vote in person due to the COVID-19 health crisis.
Hargett thanked the Tennessee General Assembly, including Rep. Cameron Sexton of Crossville who serves as Speaker of the House for ensuring the election officials had resources necessary to meet federal election and Centers for Disease Control guidelines for the election amid the ongoing pandemic.
The Cumberland County Election Commission has processed more than 1,300 absentee ballot requests and already had 742 returned. Four years ago, only 160 absentee ballots were cast.
Absentee ballots must be requested by July 30 from the Cumberland County Election Commission and must be received by close of polls on Election Day.
Voters who plan to vote in person on Aug. 6 will report to one of the county’s 24 voting precincts. You must vote at your assigned precinct on Aug. 6. If you aren’t sure where that is, contact the election commission office at 931-484-4919.