Early voting for the Nov. 8 Election began Wednesday (Oct. 19) and continues through Thursday, Nov. 3, with 26 locations across Shelby County. (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises/The New Tri-State Defender)

With the November 8 Election less than a month away, the window opened on Wednesday (Oct. 19) for those who choose to vote early.

Early voting extends through Thursday, Nov. 3, with 26 locations across Shelby County.

The Shelby County Election Commission and the Shelby County Voter Alliance pitched early voting during a joint press conference at the Shelby County Election Commission downtown on Wednesday morning.

A hopeful tone was sounded for possibly higher numbers this mid-term election year. Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 8.

Shelby County Election Commission Administrator Linda Phillips. (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises/The New Tri-State Defender)

Shelby County Election Commission Administrator Linda Phillips said this mid-term will feature the roll-out of new voting machines. Sessions for voters to do a test run of the new machines before actually voting have been scheduled.

“We are excited about the new machines and what we believe is an enhancement of the voter experience,” said Phillips. 

“And, of course, we always want every voter in every election to come out and exercise their right to vote. But numbers show that voters will come out for elections where they feel their vote counts. We believe this year’s numbers will be up.”


Voting for the Nov. 8 Election features the roll-out of new voting machines. (Photo: Gary S. Whitlow/GSW Enterprises/The New Tri-State Defender)

In addition to local, state, and federal races, the mid-term ballot also presents several “important constitutional questions,” said Phillips.

Voters who need some clarification and insight on what those questions mean can contact voter education organizations such as the Voter Alliance, the Women’s League of Voters and UpTheVote901.

Shelby County Voter Alliance spokesman Ian Randolph said his organization’s partnership has been productive and fruitful in terms of voter outreach.

“Our organization has been proud to join the Election Commission in helping to inform voters about the new machines and encouraging them to go to the polls for this important election.”

Practice demonstrations of the new machines have been held across the county. Randolph described the practice sessions as beneficial to voters who want to learn the machines before they actually go to vote.

Phillips amplified on her optimism that this mid-term voting season will be one of the best in terms of numbers.

“Of course, mid-terms do not bring out the voter numbers that presidential election years do,” said Phillips. “But typically, the number is right at 200,000. But we may reach 250,000 because of the great work the Voter Alliance has done this year. Their voter education and registration efforts continue to be extremely effective in turning out more voters.”

Phillips noted that Shelby County voters have shifted in great numbers to the early voting schedule, as well as the use of mail-in and absentee voting. A major shift has occurred over the last few election cycles, since 2014.

Voters at the Glenview Community Center bear out the shift from Voter Day participation to early voting. Workers outside with mailers and other literature in support of various candidates said they had seen the trend toward early voting firsthand.

Donald Dickerson (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell/The New Tri-State Defender)

“For me, it is the force of habit to get out and vote on the very first day of early voting,” said Donald Dickerson. 

“Very seldom is there a line, and if you can’t wait in line, you can always come back. I started early voting many years ago, and I will never go back to Voting Day.”

Joe Boyland recalled casting his first ballot soon after he turned 18. 

Joe Boyland (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell/The New Tri-State Defender)

“I went on Voter Day, and the line was so long. I stayed in line because I was determined to cast my vote. But the next election, I voted early, and I couldn’t believe the difference. I have voted early every time since then.”

Other reflections from the first-day of Early Voting:

Jamarcus Ayers – voter: “To tell you the truth, I didn’t set out to vote today. I come up to the community center for the activities. But, I found out today is the first day of early voting. I may as well vote now, since I had planned on voting anyway, and I won’t have to worry about it anymore.” (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell/The New Tri-State Defender)

Mamie Batts – voter: “I’m a senior, and it’s hard to stand in long lines now. We just go in and come right back out with early voting. I don’t know why people still wait for Voter Day to vote.” (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell/The New Tri-State Defender)

 

Johnny Arnold – voter: “I had the time today, so I came out to vote on the first day of early voting. Generally, I get in there to vote on the second or third day, but I always do early voting. It’s just so much easier, no long lines.” (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell/The New Tri-State Defender)

Anthony Albright – campaign worker: “In every election, I volunteer to help a candidate at the polls because it’s important to be involved in the process. We need for our young people to see our example of exercising our right to vote also. I’ve been working for campaigns, looks like for decades. Most people vote early, from what I can tell.” (Photo: Dr. Sybil C. Mitchell/The New Tri-State Defender)

Warren Cox – campaign worker: “It’s been evident for years that people have been participating more in early voting than waiting until the last minute, I believe many races are decided in early voting now. I’ve been doing this for more than ten years, and early voting has become more important in Shelby County than the actual day to vote.”

(For more information, visit https://bit.ly/3D9ugCu.)