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Early Voting underway in Johnson County

Johnson County residents come out in droves for early voting on Wednesday morning. Reports show that more than 200 residents voted before noon, and Johnson County had nearly 2,000 total ballots cast by last Saturday. Photo by Lewis Chapman.

By Jill Penley
Freelance Writer

If the lines wrapped around the building on the first day of early voting is any indication, Johnson County voters are eager to cast their ballots. Over 200 people voted before noon on Wednesday, and there were lines throughout the day. Administrator of Election Cheri Lipford reported that as of last Saturday, almost 2,000 people have already voted. Including in-person and mail ballots, Johnson County has 1,809 ballots cast. The situation was similar throughout the Tri-Cities. According to Lipford, the county has also seen an uptick in new voter registrations in advance of the 2020 state and federal general election and the Town of Mountain City Municipal Election.

The election commission continues to take safety precautions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, such as frequent disinfection of voting machines, laptops keyboards, ballot activation cards, and other items. There are lines drawn on the floor and on the sidewalk to assure adequate social distancing. A small bag of COVID-19 essentials was also distributed to voters, complete with clear, single-use, disposable gloves, an ink pen to sign paperwork and keep, and an “I voted” sticker.

While early voting is ongoing, the Election Commission Office is a legal polling place, which means the 100-foot boundary on campaign materials affects the office building and the parking area. Campaign materials such as signs, hats, t-shirts, buttons, or campaign literature are not allowed within 100 feet of a polling place under state law.

Voters can participate in early voting Monday through Saturday until October 29, 2020. For early voting and election day hours, polling locations, and sample ballots, visit https://www.jctnvote.com/. To vote in person during Early Voting or on Election Day, a Federal or State of Tennessee Government-issued photo ID is required for voting unless an exception applies.  College student IDs and out-of-state photo IDs will not be accepted. 

Forms of acceptable identification, even if expired, include a Tennessee driver license with photo, United States passport, Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security photo ID, Photo ID issued by the federal government, United States military ID including a Veteran Identification Card, and a Tennessee handgun carry permit with photo. 

To learn more about this law and its exceptions, please call the Johnson County Election Commission or visit the Tennessee Division of Elections website at www.GoVoteTN.com. By state law, any elderly voter or voter with a disability whose polling place is inaccessible may vote early by absentee ballot or at the Election Commission Office on Election Day. If voters choose to vote at the Election Commission Office on Election Day, they must complete an affidavit at the Election Commission Office no later than October 24, 2020, ten days before the election, stating that their designated voting location is inaccessible.

For more information, please contact the Johnson County Election Commission office. In Tennessee, 453,858 voters cast ballots in person or had their previously sent absentee-by-mail ballots counted Wednesday and Thursday, the first two days of in-person voting in federal and state contests, Secretary of State Tre Hargett said. The state and federal general election and the Town of Mountain City Municipal Election are Tuesday, November 3.