Primaries don’t carry the same cachet as general elections, but they are just as important nonetheless because they determine who will be on the Nov. 3 general election ballot.
Voting is your fundamental right, and we would argue, your obligation. We urge you to vote on Thursday, Aug. 6.
The primary also serves as the county’s general election, although the slate of candidates — or lack thereof — is disappointing. In the school board District 4 race, Republican Robby Kirkland is the only candidate who qualified. Vandy Kemp and Philip Porter (Districts 2 and 6, respectively) are certified write-in candidates whose names are not on the ballot. Property Assessor Tim Helton, the Republican nominee, is running unopposed.
The primary is crucial for picking national officeholders who represent Tennessee. Many states, Tennessee included, have an open primary process, which means Democrats can vote in the Republican primary and vice versa. That often is done when a voter wants to help nominate a weaker candidate to face their party’s nominee in the general election.
Democratic voters in Blount County have five choices for U.S. Senate to replace the retiring Lamar Alexander, a Maryville native, and two for the 2nd Congressional District seat now held by Tim Burchett.
Republican voters have 15 candidates for Alexander’s U.S. Senate seat.
There are uncontested primaries for the General Assembly in House Districts 8 and 20, while state Sen. Art Swann has no Democratic opponent.
Friendsville voters have no candidates to choose from for two seats on the City Commission; the Townsend City Commission has two candidates vying for two seats.
The lack of competition is disappointing, but it is what it is.
When you vote, be sure to wear masks and stay 6 feet apart and to obey the instructions of poll officials. It’s also a good idea to bring your own blue or black pen and a miniature bottle of hand sanitizer.
“Poll workers have been very happy with the mask mandate,” Administrator of Elections Susan Knopf emailed us Thursday. “They are happy to assist voters to use our hand sanitizer, wear a food service glove to vote, use a one-time use pen that is sanitized once used, and offer masks to those that do not have one.”
Early voting ends Saturday. A list of early-voting locations is at https://www.blounttn.org/DocumentCenter/View/19473/PRECINCT-LOCATIONS---2020.