By BROOKE WANSER
With election day just around the corner, allegations of voter fraud and disenfranchisement have been de rigueur in the final days of early voting.
In the early voting period, 7,121 of a registered pool of 147,308 cast their ballots; the final day for early voting, Thursday, saw the most voters.
The greatest number of ballots for a county commission race have been cast in the four-way District 9 race, with incumbent Todd Kaestner, Chas Morton, Bob Peterman, and Matt Williams vying for the two seats and splitting 1,047 votes. The next highest polling segment is District 7, with 838 votes.
Chad Gray, the county’s administrator of elections, said in the 2014 Republican primary, nearly 4,000 voted early, around three percent. There was no Democratic primary that year.
Gray attributed the larger turnout this year, especially in the final day of voting, to procrastination and the publicity of the campaign.
The election commission agreed to forward the cases on to the district attorney, as they may constitute felonious voter fraud, while the Democratic party argued that those who had no Democratic options should not be disenfranchised by having no vote in the primary.
“The primaries are mechanisms of the parties, and we are holding those for the parties,” Gray said.
By voting the in the primary election, “You’re sort of engaging in a process that is a political party process,” he continued.
The election commission agreed that the state code, TCA 2-7-115, which specifies that one must be a “bona fide” member of the party of pledge “allegiance” to the party in which primary they vote, will be posted at each polling location on election day. Polling officers will also be briefed on the code.
Gray said 43 polling locations throughout the county will be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesday, May 1.
Offices in the primary include mayor, register of deeds, juvenile court clerk, and county commission.
To find out more about voting and your voting location, visit the election commission website here.