DeKalb County is following the trend statewide as large numbers turned out early to cast votes in the November 4th General Election.
A total of 3,979 people in DeKalb County took advantage of early voting, which ended on Thursday, October 30th. A total of 3,816 voted in person and 163 voted by mail.
Lisa Peterson, DeKalb County Administrator of Elections, says turnout locally is on pace to be greater than in the 2000 and 2004 Presidential elections here. "When comparing the voter turnout for this election versus the past two Presidential elections, it is clear that we are having a higher than usual voter turnout. For the November 7th, 2000 Presidential Election, the total voter turnout was 6,439. A total of 2,212 people cast their ballot during the early voting/absentee period and 4,227 voted on Election Day. In the November 2nd, 2004 Presidential Election, the voter turnout was 7,276. A total of 3,142 voted during the Early Voting/Absentee period and 4,134 voted on Election Day."
Offices on the ballot in DeKalb County are U.S. President, U.S. Senate, U.S. House of Representatives (6th district), and Tennessee House of Representatives (40th district).
Peterson says the early voting process has gone smoothly so far. "I believe most people have been pleased with how fast the line is moving. We have not experienced long lines during the Early Voting period here in DeKalb County. I urge the voters of DeKalb County to take advantage of the Early Voting period. All early voting is done in the basement courtroom of the courthouse. I've had several calls from folks asking if they can early vote at their community precincts, but there is a central location for early voting and that is at the courthouse. No special reason is needed to vote during early voting, any registered voter in DeKalb County can come during the voting hours and vote."
The early voting hours are from 9:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday and Thursday from 9:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m.
On election day, November 4th, the precincts will be open throughout the county beginning at 8:00 a.m. and they will remain open until 7:00 p.m. Anyone in line at 7:00 p.m. will be allowed to vote.
Peterson says anyone who would like a sample ballot may view one on the election commission website at www.dekalbelections.com or you may stop by the election office in the basement of the courthouse. "We have sample ballots, voting instructions and voting schedules available in the hallways for anyone that wants one. There is also an instructional video running in the hallway that demonstrates how to use the voting machine. Our election workers are well trained and will give instructions to the voters. If anyone has any questions or problems while voting, it is important to ask the election worker for assistance before pushing the red CAST VOTE button on the machine."
Peterson says Tuesday, October 28th is the last day the election commission can receive a request or application to vote by mail. "Most of the votes cast during the early voting period are cast by machine although there are some voters who are eligible to vote by mail. The most common reasons we have seen are those that are age 65 or older, or who are outside DeKalb County during all voting periods. Tennessee does require that a person submit a written request if a person desires to vote by mail. We've had votes cast by mail from as far away as Mozambique, Japan, and Iraq for this election."
According to Peterson, "A request can serve as an application for a ballot if it contains the following: The voter's name and address here in DeKalb County where they are registered, their mailing address where we need to mail the ballot, their social security number, the election they want to vote in, the reason they want to vote by mail, and the voter's signature."
"The election statutes have several acceptable reasons including voters who are over 65 years of age, persons who have been absent from DeKalb County during the entire voting period and expect to be absent on Election Day as well, persons who are hospitalized, handicapped, or disabled or the caretaker of someone who is, persons who have a commercial driver's license and expect to be away during the entire voting period, and college students and/or their spouses."
"If anyone is in the hospital in DeKalb County, they may call the office and we will personally bring them a ballot. The request should be made before Election Day. The counting board convenes on Election Day and counts all paper ballots cast in the election. If voters are in the hospital outside DeKalb County, they can send a written request or fax a request and get a ballot mailed to them at the hospital outside DeKalb County. The address to mail a request is DeKalb County Election Commission, P.O. Box 543, Smithville, Tennessee, 37166. The fax number is 615-597-7799."
Anyone who wants more information about absentee voting can call the office at 597-4146 or refer to the election commission website at www.dekalbelections.com and from the homepage click on "Absentee Voting" from the menu on the left side of the page.