Longer lines than usual on first day of early voting in Lenoir City

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LENOIR CITY, Tenn. (WATE) — A long line of voters wrapped around Roane State Community College in downtown Lenoir City for most of the first day of early voting.

Voting in Lenoir City opened at 10 a.m., but some local leaders said they saw voters lined up as early as 9 a.m.

Jennifer Wampler, a current city council member who is also running for re-election on this November’s ballot, said Lenoir City residents have always seemed to prefer early voting, but she’s never seen the line as long as it was Wednesday morning.

“It’s incredible the turnout. And I think more people are voting, those that have never ever voted and those that haven’t voted in a while. It’s very important to them,” Wampler said.

Several people were there to vote for the first time, including Charlotte Jessie.

“I come from back in the sticks. Never voted before in my life and it’s independence day for me,” Jessie said.

Jessie is 74 years old and said she had some health problems, which made it difficult for her to wait in line to vote.

“I’m taking strong doses of medicine just to be here. The good Lord let me come and I’m here. Thank God I’m here,” Jessie said.

Jessie was very proud of her mask, which had a picture of President Trump.

She said this was the most important election for her to cast her ballot in.

“You need to get out and vote. America needs the votes. Don’t sit it on your butt and blame somebody. Get out and vote,” Jessie said.

A few others who never miss the chance to vote said they preferred to go during early voting.

Jamie Whitt said she usually votes early, and even though it took her an hour and 20 minutes on Wednesday, she knew from previous experiences that was a much shorter wait than on election day.

“The last presidential election, I think I stood in line for three hours. So I had to do it, I didn’t early vote that time, so this time I’m getting it taken care of,” Whitt said.

Once inside the college, the wait wasn’t too much longer.

Not as many people were inside to help with social distancing, and some other precautions were in place.

Electioneers handed out gloves and new pens for everyone to use, and hand sanitizer was placed around the hallways and voting room.

Everyone had to wear a mask in order to vote.

Andre Veal, another long-time voter, said it was important to get his vote in early because he knows his vote will be counted coming in person and early.

He said it was especially important this year for his voice to be heard.

“It’s been such a dreadful year and I wanted to get it out of the way just to get on with life, you know. Try to move on.”

Eddie Simpson, a city councilperson also running for re-election, said he was glad to see the huge turnout on Wednesday and hopes it continued through election day.

“I really think that people are really interested in where our country is going and I think it’s most of the crowd that’s here is here for the presidential election,” Simpson said.

Simpson said if more people come out to vote for the presidential race, then more are voting for the local race as well.

For early voting locations and times in Lenoir City, click here.

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