Washington County voter registration up
Gary B. Gray
Oct 8, 2012 at 11:17 PM
As of Monday, the Washington County Election Commission had on file a total of 67,777 registered, active voters — more than 2,500 voters more than were registered for the Aug. 2 state primary and county general election.
A “big picture” comparison also shows the total number of active and inactive voters so far is 75,976 compared to 70,005 in the last presidential election in 2008. That’s a gain of nearly 6,000.
Administrator of Elections Maybell Stewart said inactive voters remain on the rolls until they have not voted in two consecutive November presidential elections or it cannot be determined whether they are at the same address, as well as other factors. But until that time, these people are counted, according to Stewart.
“We will have over 76,000 people that are eligible — people can still vote,” she said. “There will be more (registered and active. Today (Monday) is the deadline, but there will be more coming from the Public Safety Department and the County Clerk’s office. This is everything we have in our system today, but I would imagine we’ll end up having about 3,000 more registered voters than we did in August.”
Monday was the last day to register in person to vote in Tennessee. Even though it was Columbus Day, elections offices were open Monday in all but two of the state’s 95 counties.
“I know we’ve had a lot of new registrations come in just within the county, and we’ve had quite a few first-time voters register,” she said. “We’ve had no snags, but the phones never seem to stop ringing.”
Absentee requests will be taken until Oct. 30. But Stewart strongly encouraged people to get them in as soon as possible and not push their luck.
“We can’t total everything today (Monday), because we’ll still have to gather registrations sent by mail and postmarked by Oct. 6,” she said. “This being a holiday we still need to receive and enter those we get by mail. Election Commission workers are continuing to enter registration forms into computers.”
Washington County is among only a handful of counties statewide that will open its Public Safety Department driver service center on Saturdays to issue photo IDs for voters to comply with a new state law requiring them in order to cast ballots.
The office at 4717 Lake Park Dr. in Johnson City was open this past Saturday and will be open again Nov. 3 from 8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Monday also was the first day the Election Commission office could receive requests and/or applications for absentee ballots to be voted by mail by persons other than armed forces personnel, their spouses and overseas voters.
Meanwhile, early voting begins in just over one week.
The Election Commission has extended the time polls will be open by one hour each day, including Election Day, clearing the way for what is expected to be a hearty voter turnout.
Early voting begins Oct. 17 and runs through Nov. 1. The county’s three early voting locations will be open on weekdays and from 9.a.m. to 6 p.m., pushing back the traditional 5 p.m. closing time and giving voters an extra hour at the end of the day. These locations also will be open on two Saturdays — Oct. 20 and Oct. 27 — from 9 a.m. to noon. Polls are closed on Sundays.
On election day, the county’s 40 precincts will open at 7 a.m. — one hour earlier than the normal 8 a.m. Polls will close at 8 p.m.
Stewart said there have been no changes in precinct locations.