With nearly 8,000 votes cast in the first two days of early voting, will Shelby County witness one of the larger mid-term turnouts in recent history?
“The turnout has really been encouraging,” said Sidney Adkins, who was handing out voting literature at Riverside Community Center. “What we are seeing since Monday is that the number of early voters keeps growing. Each day, we see more people coming out to participate.”
Early voting began last Friday, July 15. According to one site coordinator, a higher turnout may occur this year, if turn out so far is any indication.
“As a coordinator, I travel around to four early voting sites,” said Paula Miller on Wednesday. “And voters at all these sites are talking about three major races they feel are important: Juvenile Court Judge, County Mayor, and the District Attorney. People are coming out because they feel this mid-term is especially important.”
The Shelby County Voter Alliance (SCVA), Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) and the Shelby County Election Commission hope to boost early voting numbers even more with free voter transportation to the polls all day on Friday, July 29, two days before early voting ends.
The entities forged the partnership in March to accommodate voters during the County Primary Elections. A promotional event to talk up “Free Bus Day for Shelby County Voters” is slated for Thursday, July 21, to make sure public transportation riders and all Shelby County voters are welcome to participate.
“We are excited to partner with the Shelby County Election Commission and the Shelby County Voter Alliance again,” said MATA CEO Gary Rosenfeld. “We are delighted to help our citizens fulfill their civic duty, and we encourage everyone to take advantage.”
The Shelby County Voter Alliance is a non-partisan, non-profit organization in Shelby County. Its mission involves ensuring equal access to the polls for all communities, getting voters registered, and promoting racial parity.
“Transportation to the polls has been something our organization has always focused on, and this partnership helps us extend our reach all across the county,” said Ian Randolph, SCVA spokesperson.
Weekend days seem to put up the biggest numbers in most elections, according to Miller.
“I just heard about the free transportation voting day this morning,” said Miller. “This is such a great idea because we all want our fellow citizens to have the opportunity to vote, especially in this mid-term election. No one who desires to vote should be hindered from voting because of challenges with transportation.”
Early voting will continue through Saturday, July 30, at 26 early-voting sites.
Shelby County Election Commission Administrator Linda Phillips is hopeful that the narrative on mid-term elections will change from a consistent history of voter turnout.
“Most mid-term election turnouts are barely 10 percent of eligible voters, said Phillips. “This year, voters are looking at certain races they feel are very important. The free transportation day for Shelby County voters may help us exceed that number this time.”
Thursday, August 4, is election day.
During the first two early voting days, 7,763 voters let their voices be heard. According to the Shelby County Election Commission, that total included absentee votes and ballots cast by voters in skilled nursing facilities. By party, 4,239 were cast identified as Democrat, and 3,365 identified as Republican.
This ballot is the longest one since the 2014 mid-terms, with a combination of elections, along with state and federal primaries.
Thirty-seven judicial races list a total of 95 candidates. Many of the judicial incumbents are on the ballot unopposed.
Early voting is Monday through Friday, from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., except at the Shelby County Election Commission, which opens from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the following two weeks.
Again, early voting will end Saturday, July 30.
For Early Voting locations, click HERE!