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Local voters stay away from polls
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MCMINNVILLE, Tenn. — Early voters outnumbered those going to the polls for the first time in local election history as the county saw a dismal turnout for the May primaries.
“Ask Cole Taylor how important one vote is,” said election administrator Donna Smith, referring to Taylor’s one-vote loss to Carolyn Miller in their County Commission race. “I think sometimes people mistakenly believe their vote doesn’t mean a lot. It can really make a difference.”
A total of 6,143 people voted overall in the primaries. There are 18,135 active voters in Warren County. That translates to 33.87 percent of Warren County’s registered voters, meaning 1-in-3 active, registered voters went to the polls to cast their ballots.
A total of 3,157 voted early compared to 2,988 who went to the polls at the county’s 20 voting precincts. It marked the first time early voting had a higher number than election-day voting since the early voting option began 20 years ago.
This year’s election featured two races decided in the primary – public defender and circuit court clerk. They were decided in the primary because they are not being contested in the August general election. It also featured a contested sheriff’s race between incumbent Sheriff Jackie Matheny and Bobby Edwards.
As a comparison of voting numbers, Matheny garnered 5,914 votes back in 2006 when he defeated popular opponent Kenny Taylor, who got 3,530 votes himself. Matheny’s vote total that year nearly eclipsed the total number of votes cast in both primaries this year, 6,143.
Smith said it is unclear why voters stayed away from the polls with all the races that were at stake, although she said it is up to candidates to motivate voters.
Voters will get a chance to redeem themselves in August with the general election.