There's a lot on the line for the Aug. 2 election.
Cumberland County will elect a new county mayor, up to five new members of the Cumberland County Board of Education and 18 county commissioners. They'll also help choose who will carry their party's banner in the November state general election for governor as well as U.S. Senator and congressman.
But how many eligible voters will take to the polls during the early voting period or on election day?
The PEW Charitable Trust's review of the 2014 midterm elections — held in November — found Tennessee ranked last in the nation for voter turnout, with less than 29 percent of active registered voters going to the polls.
That earned the state a rank of 50 for voter turnout.
When you consider that only about 60.74 percent of residents who are eligible to vote are registered, that number voting seems even more disheartening. We have roughly 18 percent of people who could vote voting and making decisions that impact us all.
While the high-stakes statewide elections tend to bring people to the ballot box, it's important people remember they're also casting ballots for the people who will be making decisions that will affect them every day.
The county mayor serves as the county's chief financial officer and is charged with taking care of county property. Your 18-member county commission sets the tax rate each year and determines how money is spent. They enact policy for how local services are delivered. Your school board is in charge of developing a budget to operate nine elementary schools and three high schools each year. They also set policy for the school system, such as dress code standards or how you go about filing a complaint against a school employee.
Tennessee offers an early voting period for each election. According to Jill Davis, administrator of elections, 1,625 people had taken advantage of that opportunity as of 5 p.m. Tuesday. Early voting opened Friday, July 13, and continues through Saturday, July 28. Registered voters can simply go to the election office at 2 S. Main St. in the Milo Lemert Building across from the Cumberland County Courthouse, and present their government-issued photo ID to vote.
You don't need a reason to vote early. Just show up between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday or 8 a.m. and noon on Saturday and vote. When reached on Wednesday afternoon, Davis said there were no lines and no waiting.
Voters also have the option of waiting until election day, Aug. 2.
Keep in mind, this falls during the 127 Corridor Sale, so voters who must travel Hwy. 127 to their polling location may want to take advantage of early voting and save the headache of fighting yard sale traffic on Aug. 2.
Polls are open 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Aug. 2. You must vote at your precinct. If you don't know your precinct, contact the election commission office (484-4919), or download the GoVoteTN app for your mobile device. The app also offers sample ballots and online election results.
If you haven't registered to vote yet, you've missed the window for the Aug. 2 election. You can register now and be ready to cast your ballot in the November state general election and local city elections.
Voting is a fundamental responsibility of citizenship. It's also your voice in your government. Don't give your voice away by sitting at home.