Election staff says election day voter turnout is expectedly low


Election staff says election day voter turnout is expectedly low

By RACHAEL LONG

Election day in Brentwood is well under way, with several of the city’s largest voting precincts reporting relatively low turnout numbers by mid morning.

But most election staff said that kind of election day response is to be expected in a local election.

There are nine polling locations in this year’s election, each one staffed by members of the Williamson County Election Commission. On behalf of the nine candidates, volunteers donning campaign T-shirts and signs decorated the parking areas, always behind the 100-foot boundary line.

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Brenthaven Church on Franklin Road was one of those voting locations with several supporters lined up outside. The church covers voting precinct 7-1, and as of about 11 a.m., the church had seen about 90 voters. In the 2017 citywide election, the church pulled in 284 voters on election day and 655 during early voting.

Officer of Elections at Brenthaven Mike Young said trends change over the years, but municipal-only elections typically don’t see high turnout.

“We just estimate what we think the turnout will be right now,” Young said. “Right now, Janet thinks we may get to 200. I think it’d probably be 150 or less, based on what we’re seeing.”
Once upon a time, Young said the election staff typically would see more voters as people headed home from work, but that hasn’t been in the case in the last couple of elections.

“Whatever we’ve seen around 3 o’clock, [voter turnout] is probably not going to go much higher than that,” Young said.

Just before 11:30 a.m., precinct 7-2 at Tennessee Baptist Children’s Home had also seen fairly low turnout, with only 43 voters having already been to the polls, according to Officer of Elections Wilburn Honeycutt. The location drew 151 voters on election day in 2017, and another 265 during early voting that year.

More: Early voting ahead of May 7 election concludes with ballots cast from 9% of voters

At the Brentwood Library, or precinct 6-1, Officer of Elections Bob Williams said the polling place had seen about 11 people an hour and about 55 people had voted by 11:45 a.m.

In the 2017 election, the Brentwood Library saw 175 voters on election day and 527 during early voting. Based on the frequency of voters he’d seen so far, Williams said he didn’t expect quite that many voters this year.

“It won’t be that high,” Williams said. “Whenever there’s a commissioner election and it’s local…it’s always low.”

At New Hope Community Church, Officer of Elections Donald King said the polling place had seen about 53 voters by noon. In the 2017 election, 214 voters cast a ballot on election day while 376 more turned out for early voting.

“The city elections [for] City Commissioners are always a low turnout,” King said. “But the early voting turnout was bigger than in prior years.”

King said it’s hard to estimate a final count, but he speculated that the polling place might see between 180-190 voters before the day is through.

While election day turnout has thus far been underwhelming, Election Administrator Chad Gray shared voting data that shows early voting has historically made a significant impact on the outcome of the election. In Brentwood’s 2017 citywide election, nearly 68% of the overall ballots came from early voting.

Early voting ended last Thursday, May 2, and Gray said 9% of the 31,615 registered voters cast a ballot during the two-week period.

The polls close at 7 p.m. At that time, the Williamson County Election Commission will begin to share results as votes are counted at each polling location.

 

 

 

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