A total of 629,485 Tennesseans cast ballots during the early voting period, a 14.6 percent decline from the total of 736,885 in 2010, the last mid-term election, according to the state Division of Elections website. In 2012, a presidential election year, early voter turnout in Tennessee was 1,407,021.
Some elaboration from The Tennessean:
Whether the explanation for lighter turnout is that voters are waiting longer to make a decision because of the four constitutional amendments on the ballot, or there is widespread disinterest because of the lack of sexy, competitive races, will be determined at the polls Tuesday.
“While there has been a steady trend toward early voting, we think voters may be taking longer to make up their minds this year,” said Blake Fontenay, communications director for the Secretary of State. “We have seen voting totals increase steadily each day.”
Davidson County is a good example. During the first five days of early voting 2,546 ballots were cast. On Thursday, 13,138 voters cast ballots. Total early voting in Davidson County was 65,831 this year versus 73,331 in 2010, a 9.1 percent decrease.
Williamson County turnout slowed on Thursday. Total early turnout was 9.5 percent below 2010. Through the first 13 days of voting, Williamson was running just 6 percent behind the 2010 vote.
One of the biggest declines in early turnout was Shelby County, the state’s largest county. Early voting was down 22.8 percent from 2010. In 2010, 109,680 voters cast their ballots early versus 84,723 this year.
Knox County and Hamilton County bucked the downward trend from 2010. Knox finished with 57,024 voters casting early ballots, up 92 from 2010, and Hamilton County saw an increase of 210 early voters to 27,542.