It's that time again. Primaries for many local offices were held in May, and the general election for many state and federal offices comes in November. In between is the August 7 primary, in which the Democratic and Republican parties will hold primaries for their state and federal candidates. Early voting for that primary begins today.
There wasn't much enthusiasm aroused by the May primaries, according to turnout figures. The Knoxville News Sentinel estimated only ten percent of Knox County's roughly 276,000 registered voters cast ballots in that election. Many of the city and county seats featured in May drew no challengers. But August's primaries will be different, featuring state and federal races that have some prominent challengers taking on the incumbents.
Among the races to be decided in the upcoming primary: Lamar Alexander's fight against challengers who want to be the next GOP nominee for U.S. Senate, and a judicial retention election that will decide whether three Tennessee Supreme Court justices will keep their seats on the bench. A number of state General Assmebly seats and county offices will also appear on the August 7 ballot.
Tennessee's top election official, Secretary of State Tre Hargett, encouraged voters to take advantage of early voting this election cycle.
“Because of the length of the August ballot, and the time to read the ballot during the voting process, lines on Election Day are expected to be long. Voting early this election just makes sense," Hargett said on Thursday.
Knox County Election Administrator Cliff Rodgers agreed. He told the News Sentinel ballots in the county could have 50 to 60 choices for voters to make, depending on the precinct. Rodgers estimated that could mean the August ballot will take about twice as long to fill out than a typical primary ballot.
The early voting period closes on August 2.