Perhaps due to extensive early voting, which closed last week with 55.6 percent of registered Williamson County voters already pulling the lever, many polls have been slow but steady so far in the early hours of Election Day.
And once voters get to a machine, the process is a quick one.
In addition to the hotly contested presidential election, the U.S. House is on the ballot as well as the Tennessee House. In Fairview, Nolensville and Thompson’s Station, municipal government races are on the ballot. Polls are open until 7 p.m.
After the doors were opened at Hunters Bend Elementary School in Franklin, the first voter emerged just three minutes later. By 7:13 the 55 people who had been waiting outside had disappeared, though voters continued to arrive alone and in twos.
At Liberty Elementary School, 600 Liberty Pike in Franklin, 49 percent of 2,865 voters in the precinct voted early. A handful of voters, about 25, trickled in between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m.
“This is slow, slower than usual because of early voting, but steady,” Francis Hatcher, an election volunteer there, said.
“Also a lot of times more people come out in the evening.”
Matt O’Connel was one of those who came early. He brought his son with him, to show him what it was like.
“I would say I came out more to vote against a person,” Matt O’Connel “Stability is the biggest issue for me, I would say, and it is an issue I came out to cast my vote for.”
At the People’s Church, 828 Murfreesboro Road in Franklin, 57.6 of 5,526 voters had voted early.
“Well over a hundred people voted already,” said Jack Stone. Most were there right when the doors open, about 50, but in the two hours since things stayed slow.”
Nancy Gardner, a longtime Franklin resident, came out to vote for her candidate.
“For- always for,” she said. “Never go against. I came out because it is my obligation to vote, simple as that. It is fundamental. I wouldn’t miss an election for all the tea in China. And I love tea.”
Brentwood had some busy precincts. Prairie Life Fitness in Cool Springs had almost 200 voters by 8 a.m. Holy Family Catholic Church reached 200 by 9 a.m.
At Church of the Resurrection on Sneed Road in the Grassland area, 250 had voted by 9:30. Official Michael Rolla said he expects 1,000 to come through the doors today.
First Presbyterian Church at Mack Hatcher and Franklin Road also had brisk voter business. Official Ellen Nagy said there had been big surges all morning.
At the Williamson County Election Commission, Chad Gray, administrator of elections, was in the middle of a quick, standing coffee break.
“We have had our normal confusion for the first couple hours, workers and voters confused and everything else, but no crisis that I know of —yet,” Chad Gray, administrator of elections for Williamson County, said.
The slow turnout so far could be due to people waiting until their lunch break or to get off work to vote, since the polls are open until 7 p.m. But the record early turnout could also have something to do with it. Before the polls even opened this morning, turnout already had exceeded the total percentage of people who polled (50.2 percent) in 2012, and gotten close to 2008 (59.6 percent).
Not all polls had a slow start. Thompson’s Station Church had a line of 80 to 100 people outside when doors opened at 7 a.m.
By just after 8 a.m., 150 people had cast ballots at Walnut Grove Elementary School in the Grassland community.
By comparison, 13 voters were waiting in line when the Independence High School poll opened in Thompson’s Station, and by 9 a.m. just 38 had voted. 63% of the 1,068 registered voters at Independence voted early.
Andrea Hinds, Zach Harmuth, Emily West, Donna Vissman, Michael Carpenter and Mark Cook contributed to this story.