KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) – The lines are longer, but Knox County Administrator of Elections Chris Davis still described the first day of early voting as outstanding. The estimated wait time varies by location, he noted, from 30 minutes to two hours, or longer. Davis credited COVID-19, the spacing required, and the ability to get fewer people inside at the same time.
Despite the longer lines, he pointed out the lines are always moving, and so far there have been no issues throughout the county. He credited the “outstanding” start to the early voting period to the work of the dedicated poll workers.
He also shared a few ways you can vote early, and maybe avoid the long lines:
Explore your options. Wednesday, around 4:30, Davis said the city/county voting location was quiet; meanwhile, a crowd stood at the Downtown West location waiting to get inside. In fact, staff at the location ushered voters an hour after closing Wednesday, who were in line by their 6 p.m. closing.
Study your ballot. Davis noted many people are spending extra time contemplating proposed amendments to the Knox County Charter. Doing some research ahead of voting could save time, he said, and make the lines move more quickly.
Consider voting Saturday. While it is a surprise to many, he explained it is the least-busy day for voting.
He continued to underscore the benefits of voting early. For starters, on election day, voters must cast their ballots at an assigned precinct. During early voting, they can use any location. He also noted in four of the last six election days the area faces the threat of storms, even severe weather. Those conditions are not ideal to standing in line.
David highlighted the trustworthiness of absentee ballots and a potential problem with people voting in-person, despite having received a ballot in the mail. He estimated more than 10,000 have been mailed out and around 5,100 have already been returned. While more than 18,000 people have requested to vote by mail, he is seeing more of them opting to mail in-person instead. This is possible through a provisional ballot, which is counted after the election. “If you’ve got that ballot in your hand, go ahead and put 55 cents on it and stick it in the mail. You can trust it,” he said.
While a typical presidential election brings about 500 provisional ballots, he fears they could see between 1,000-2,000. “…you really can’t call any race, until after election day because you’ve got, maybe one or two thousand outstanding provisional ballots.”
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