Early voting two weeks away

Loudon County Election Commission representatives, from left, Estelle Herron, Glen Quillen and Tabitha Oody test voting machines Thursday at the county office building.

Loudon County Election Commission is busy working toward early voting that begins in two weeks.

Early voting will start Oct. 17 and go through Nov. 1 before election day Nov. 6. Staff has been preparing for months in a year that has seen additional elections in May and August.

“We actually started on this election working toward it a year ago,” Susan Harrison, administrator of elections for Loudon County, said. “I mean, you just try to work ahead of the game and always stay ahead. Actually this election, the day we finished certifying the last election, you start toward this one. You work as far ahead in advance you can with stuff so that if something happened you’re not behind.

“... There’ll be a lull (after this election) but we’ll be working toward the 2020 (election) buying new machines and preparing for that one. There won’t be down time,” she added. “We just mainly encourage everybody to take advantage of early voting.”

The coming election period will include the state and federal general election, along with contested races in Lenoir City, Loudon and Greenback. Notable contested local races include Lenoir City and Loudon city councils, along with Loudon and Greenback mayoral races. Lenoir City Board of Education will also have contested seats.

“The governor’s race will bring them out and then the U.S. Senate seat,” Harrison said. “There’s a lot of vacancies this time that will bring people out. The city elections will bring people out too. ... Our sample ballots are on our loudoncountyvotes.com website. They can go there and see the actual ballot for each district, each precinct. We’ve got them broken down like that. We encourage early voting because if you change your address we can fix it there, where if you vote on election day you would have to go from one precinct to another.”

The coming voting period follows an August election that boasted the largest turnout in Loudon County for a governor’s cycle with 12,376 voters, Harrison said. The largest November turnout for a governor’s cycle was 15,502 voters in 2010. Presidential cycles are larger.

Harrison anticipates a big turnout.

“In August it was the state primary and there wasn’t any big opposition countywide to draw the voters out, but with this (not) being a state primary, you’ve got your governors, Senate, those folks, and I think it’ll be a heavy turnout,” Estelle Herron, election commission representative, said.

Two full-time early voting locations will be open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.-noon Saturdays Oct. 17-Nov. 1. Lenoir City’s location is 100 West Broadway, Lenoir City, at Roane State Community College. Loudon’s location is 100 River Road, Loudon, at the county office building. A temporary location in Tellico Village will open Oct. 23-26 at Chota Recreation Center, 145 Awohili Drive, Loudon.

“I always said that if you don’t vote you can’t complain,” Herron said. “But it’s very important to know your candidates. It’s important to understand their thoughts, where they want to take the county or the country or the state. On any level it’s just very vitally important because that’s the only say you have.”

The last day to register to vote is Oct. 9. Absentee ballot requests must also be made by Oct. 30. For more information, visit www.loudoncountyvotes.com.