Voters stand in line waiting for their chance to cast their ballot at the Longview Recreation Center on Thursday. / Photo by Alexander Willis
BY ALEXANDER WILLIS
The primary elections are over, and Spring Hill saw a steady number of voters trickle into one of its three voting locations.
The three locations were the Longview Recreation Center, Chapman’s Retreat Elementary School and the Church of the City. Lines were seen when the booths opened at 7 a.m., but things slowed down until around 5 p.m. at most locations.
John Gregg, an election worker at the Longview location with the Election Commission, said he expected a turnout of around 300 – 400 people to vote when the booths opened. Gregg also said he saw “something like 760” voters during the 2016 general election.
By 6 p.m., Gregg’s prediction was met when the Longview location passed the 400 mark. Lines were seen leading out into the hallway, and the parking lot was packed.
At around noon at the Chapman’s Retreat location, Officer of the Election Jennifer Weithman said they had seen about 85 voters so far, and described the flow of people as “very slow.”
This is Weithman’s 18th year of doing polls, saying “the men in our family go in the military, and the women do this.”
“When I first started this back in ’02, Spring Hill [and] Thompson’s Station had high turnouts,” Weithman said. “I really think we were running around 70 percent and above – we’re no where near that.”
Voter turnout rates are historically much less during primary elections when compared to general elections, and Weithman believes the cause to be due to a lack of understanding.
“I think people have absolutely no concept of what a primary is,” Weithman said. “People do not understand that a primary steers your actual party in which direction it’s going to go. It sometimes has more impact than the general.”
By 6:30 p.m., the Chapman’s Retreat location had seen 288 voters, according to Weithman.
“There were the regular lulls that we had, but other than that there’s been clusters of anywhere from 8 to 10 at a time,” Weithman said. “It was kind of slow in the morning, and there’s usually a dead spot in the afternoon, but other than that, it’s been pretty steady.”
At 11:40 a.m. at the Church location, election worker Larry Tarrant said they had seen 75 voters. Tarrant said he estimated they would see 200 or so voters by the end of the day.
At 5:40 p.m., election workers at the Church location said they had seen 220 voters, exceeding Tarrant’s estimation.
All in all, voter turnout was generally slow but steady throughout the day, ramping up strongly from 5 – 7 p.m.
The general elections, in which the newly elected nominees will face off against members of the opposite party, will be held on November 6.