Should We Be Worried About Early Voting?

Alarms have been sounded over the poor Republican turnout so far in early voting. Figures I have seen put the total so far at 7,840 with 54.3% registered Democrats vs. 44.6% registered Republicans. The Dems are almost 10% higher than we are.

Should Republicans be upset about this?

Bill Dries in the Daily News writes:

Comparisons to earlier elections in the same cycle are difficult.

Four years ago, most of the same county offices were on the August ballot as well as the state and federal primary contests. But it wasn’t a “big ballot” year – the once-every-eight-year ballot that includes judicial races.

With only the Downtown Election Commission site open in the first two days in 2010, a total of 1,432 early and absentee votes were cast. There were 444 early voters on the first day and 330 on the second day.

In the 2006 big ballot August elections, the early voting period began with the Downtown site and 18 satellite sites open instead of just the Downtown site. A total of 8,055 early and absentee voters turned out across the first two days, 4,743 the first day and 3,312 the second day.

Republican campaigns pushed the opening of early voting this campaign season, but not as much as Monday’s opening of voting at 20 satellite locations including those closer to the bulk of the local Republican base in the suburbs.

According to Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett’s page, our county in the past five days is the one lagging the most statewide. So far, 21,127 votes have been cast in Shelby County. The table says we are down 2,526 from five comparable days in 2010. Statewide, there is a 23,148 vote increase from 2010 – a banner year for Republicans. Facts come from this site: and are as fresh as July 24 at 11:07 a.m.

The question we want to ask, however, is whether there is a correlation between early voting and a successful election?

Partly it depends on who is reporting on the numbers. Most of the local media skews Democrat and they are quick to pounce on any sign their side will prevail. I remember a CA reporter in 2010 who had a front page story presaging the demise of the Shelby GOP. We swept all but one race.

Then you have the party leaders who like to play it both ways. Both sides like to tell their people that voter turnout needs to be improved for final victory. They want to get people to the polls.

For comparison, if you look at the total votes cast and the early votes cast in 2010 (, 179,466 voted and of that, 51.63% were early votes.

So yes, early voting is important. However, do we think that Shelby County is more partisan Democrat now? Our candidates are appealing to independents and even some Democrats. Midtown is full of signs that are almost bipolar. Steve Cohen signs pop up next to Amy Weirich, Oldham and Luttrell. Known Democrat homes sport signs with many Republican names.

I don’t think that is as true in the reverse.

Republicans are notoriously lagging when it comes to early voting, too. I, for one, distrust early voting. Too many issues can come up right before election day. If you’ve already voted, you may want to take back your vote, but can’t. Some argue that Republicans are too busy with their careers and jobs to vote early, too.

We will certainly have a better idea on August 8th.

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