Early voting for Shelby County Aug. 4 election begins Friday; what voters need to know
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The largest ballot Shelby County has seen in 8 years will be before voters starting Friday, when early voting begins for the August 4th election.
Everything from municipal to federal positions are on the ballot, as well as amendment, notably one that would extend term limits for the Memphis Mayor and City Council.
“We have one of the most consequential elections happening,” said TN State Senator London Lamar.
Lamar, along with State Representatives Torrey Harris and Jesse Chism, met outside the Shelby County Election Commission on Thursday morning to issue a joint message of encouragement to voters and the power their vote has in this election.
“We hope to see everyone out,” Harris said. “It’s important.”
Chism echoed that statement with “If you want better streets, if you want better schools, if you want stronger families, go out and vote.”
The reason the ballot is so long is because court judges, who have eight-year terms, are up for election.
Shelby County Elections Administrator Linda Phillips told us voters should anticipate to be in the booth for 15 minutes.
“Look at the ballot before you come in,” Phillips said. “I know a lot of people during early voting come in and are out in five minutes. Well, this ballot takes longer than that.”
In 2014, the last time the ballot was this long, 82,395 Shelby County residents voted during the early voting period.
The question of line build-up, given the length of the ballot, raises concerns, especially with how hot the weather has been.
Phillips says the Election Commission is resourced accordingly.
“We’ve got pretty much everything out, that we have, although we have some spares. If we see lines developing in certain places, we can pull from our equipment,” Phillips said.
There will be 26 early voting locations.
One change that’s been made is the Agricenter will not host early voting, as it’s currently under construction.
The site is moved to the TN Shakespeare Company off N. Germantown Pkwy and Trinity Rd.
Founder Dan McCleary said he was delighted with the notion of hosting early voting.
“We were involved in the (primary) election day this year. That election day went really smoothly, but we haven’t done early voting,” McCleary said. “Shakespeare’s Coriolanus says ‘What is the city but the people?’ We have a lot of accessibility off Germantown (Pkwy.), and people like coming in here. It’s a happy place.”
Particularly in the criminal justice system, Lamar and other lawmakers believe this election could shape the crime perception of Memphis and Shelby County for better or worse.
“If you want to impact gun violence and want to see our criminal justice system change or made the same, you have to make sure you get out and vote,” Lamar said.
After Friday, early voting will continue Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., except the Shelby County Election Commission (open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.), and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the following two weeks.
Early voting will end Saturday, July 30.
Election Day is August 4.
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