Early voting ends Thursday
By Joel Davis | (email@example.com)
Tennessee voters are continuing to make a strong turnout for early voting in the Nov. 6 election, according to state officials.
In Blount County, the ballot count is up slightly compared to the presidential race four years ago.
Through Friday, 16,824 Blount Countians had voted early or by absentee ballot. After nine days of early voting in 2008, the comparable total was 16,145, according to Election Commission statistics.
State residents have until Thursday to vote early in the presidential election.
More than 952,000 voters across Tennessee had cast ballots through Saturday, according to the Division of Elections. Statewide turnout continues to exceed comparable early voting numbers for the 2008 November election.
“Voters across the state are making their voices heard at the polls,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett.
During the last presidential election in 2008, more than 1.5 million Tennesseans cast ballots during early voting. That was about 58 percent of all ballots cast in that election.
Blount Countians can cast their votes early at three locations:
• Blount County Courthouse, Election Commission Office, 383 Court St., in Maryville, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
• Everett Recreational Center, 318 South Everett High Road, Maryville, 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
• Pellissippi State Community College Blount County Campus, 2731 West Lamar Alexander Parkway, Friendsville, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
The Blount County Election Commission encourages people to use the Everett Recreational Center or Pellissippi State Technical Community College voting locations to avoid long lines at the courthouse.
In addition to deciding between incumbent President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and Republican challenger Mitt Romney, there are several municipal elections on the ballot.
County voters will consider a referendum to raise the local sales tax rate from 2.25 percent to 2.75 percent. This follows the approval of a similar measure in Alcoa in August.
On Aug. 2, Alcoa city residents approved a referendum to increase the local sales tax in order to fund a new Alcoa High School. Later in August, the Blount County Commission voted to ask county voters whether to hike the local option sales tax to match the Alcoa increase.
If the referendum passes, the county will receive a portion — an estimated $2.3 million annually — of the increased sales tax revenues generated in Alcoa. Otherwise the city keeps all of it.
Voters should remember a new law that requires them to present a state or federally issued photo ID before voting. Blount County Register of Elections Libby Breeding also encourages voters who need to change their address to do so as soon as possible prior to Election Day in order to avoid delays.
Examples of acceptable forms of ID, whether current or expired, include driver’s licenses, U.S. passports, Department of Safety photo ID cards, U.S. military photo IDs and other state or federal government photo ID cards. College student IDs are not acceptable.
The County Commission is looking ahead to the results of the tax referendum. Commissioners recently passed a nonbinding resolution to recommend that if it passes that about $625,000 in recurring revenues from cable franchise fees be reallocated to help pay off county debt, which stands at nearly $230 million.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.