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 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.”
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.
“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.
“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:
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