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Fewer than 3% of eligible voters cast ballots a week into Knoxville early voting period

Poll workers at the Downtown West polling location said few people are arriving to cast ballots during early voting.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — More than 100,000 people are eligible to vote in Knoxville's primary election. Around a week into the early voting period, only around 3,000 voters have cast a ballot.

"It just seems like it's very slow, like no one wants to come out," said Ana Tamerlane, a poll worker at the Downtown West polling location. "The city is paying for us to be here. There's no one coming out to see us."

Her polling location is one of the busiest in the city. But on Wednesday afternoon, the room was filled only by the 13 people working the polling location.  They have found ways to pass the time without an influx of voters.

"We do some trivia. We do some Sudoku," said Tamerlane.

She said someone yells out the questions in the empty room, and they all yell out the answers.

"It's hard to look them in the eye and say, 'Guys, we just don't have a whole lot of voters.' You know, I want them working," said Chris Davis, the executive director of the Knox County Election Commission. "It sounds sad to say, but if we got to 20,000 [votes], I think we would probably consider that a good election. I'm not sure we're gonna get there based on the current trend."

In an election with fewer than 3,000 ballots cast so far, the Downtown West is the busiest. Over the course of a week, Tamerlane said they have been getting more than 100 voters.

"The other locations, I can't imagine what they're doing with their time. There was a day someone had started, ten voters came in," she said.

Early voting for the 2023 City of Knoxville Primary Election runs from Aug. 9 through Aug. 24, before Election Day on Aug. 29. During the election, voters cast ballots for who they want to see for city mayor. They vote again on Nov. 7 during the general election, only if a candidate did not receive a majority of all votes cast in the primary election.

Four candidates, including Knoxville Mayor Indya Kincannon, are running for mayor in this year's election. Constance Every, R.C. Lawhorn and Jeff Talman are running too.

A list of other candidates for other positions is below.

Running for At-Large Seat A:

  • Incumbent Lynne Fugate, seeking election to a second, four-year term.
  • Cameron Brooks
  • Darin Worsham

Running for At-Large Seat B, an open seat:

  • Debbie Helsey
  • R. Bentley Marlow

Running for At-Large Seat C:

  • Incumbent Amelia Parker, seeking election to a second, four-year term.
  • Matthew Best
  • Tim Hill

Running for District 5 seat:

  • Incumbent Charles Thomas, seeking election to a second, four-year term.

Running for City Judge:

  • Incumbent John Rosson, seeking another four-year term.
  • Andrew Beamer
  • Tyler Caviness
  • Mary L. Ward

Sample ballots are available online, at the Knox County Election Commission website. A list of early voting locations is also available there.

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