Early voting starts Friday in East Tennessee

Gary B. Gray • Jul 16, 2014 at 9:19 AM

Early voting for the Aug. 7 state primary and county general elections begin Friday and runs through August 2.

Registration to vote in the federal, state and local contests has passed, and the time has come for Washington County and East Tennessee to begin making their marks at the polls.

Maybell Stewart, Washington County administrator of elections, encouraged people to vote early to skip the long lines and complete their civic transactions before unforeseen circumstances prevent them for doing so.

“For one thing, we’ll have three locations at which to vote, and people can vote at whatever locations is best for them,” Stewart said. “More people are voting early. People sometimes are called out of town unexpectedly. And if they don’t have an address where they receive mail, we can’t mail then an absentee ballot. That does happen.”

At the federal level, incumbent U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-TN, will defend his seat in Congress against six Republican challengers in the Aug. 7 primary. Four Democratic hopefuls are competing for a chance to face off in the general election. Nine independents and one Green Party candidate automatically move to the Nov. 4 ballot.

Incumbent Phil Roe will defend his District 1 U.S. House of Representatives seat against two fellow Republicans in the state primary. There are no Democrats making a run, but two independents and on Green Party candidate will join the pack in the general election.

At the state level, incumbent Republican Gov. Bill Haslam faces three GOP contenders and three Democratic hopefuls. Three independents, as well as one Green Party and one Constitution Party entries will move to the Nov. 4 general election ballot.

Two Tennessee House of Representatives races are of particular interest. District 6 incumbent Micah Van Huss is being challenged in the all-Republican primary by Johnson City Vice Mayor Clayton Stout. These are the only contestants for this seat, making it a winner-take-all affair.

The same principle applies in the District 7 race, though three Republicans are in the running: incumbent Matthew Hill, former Johnson City Commissioner Phil Carriger and Todd Mitchell Franklin.

Incumbent Washington County Mayor Dan Eldridge defeated challenger Mike Rutherford in the May 6 primary and is uncontested for the spot in the Aug. 7 election.

Local contests include a race for all 25 Washington County Commission district seats -- a commission which already has changed drastically. Nine of the 25 commissioners already are out of the picture.

Incumbents David Shanks and Pete Speropulos, who advanced to the Aug. 7 election, will not be around in 2015. Shanks withdrew his name from contention citing personal reasons and Speropulos is moving out of his district to another part of county, requiring his resignation.

Citizens can vote early at the following locations:

• Washington County Election Commission office, 100 E. Main St., Jonesborough, 37659; Health Department, 219 Princeton Road Johnson City; Fire Station at 106 Gray Commons Circle Gray. Call 753-1688 or visit website at wcecoffice.com.

• Carter County Election Commission Office, Carter County Courthouse, 801 East Elk Ave., room 207, Elizabethton, TN 37643. Call 542-1822 or visit cartercountytn.gov./government/election-commission.

• Unicoi County Election Commission office, 106 Nolichucky Ave., Erwin, 37650. Call 743-6521 or visit unicoicountytn.gov/government/election-commission.

All sites are open from 9 a.m.-5p.m. Monday – Friday, and 9 a.m.-noon on Saturdays.

Like Gary B. Gray on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pages/Gary-B-Gray. Follow him on Twitter @ggrayjcpress.

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