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KCEC: More people voted in midterms than in 2020 presidential election in Knox County

A political expert said turnout for the election was higher than unexpected and the results were surprising.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Lines wrapped around some polls in Knox CountyTuesday night, as crowds gathered to cast a ballot on Election Day. The high turnout and technological issues led to a delay in results.

The Knox County Election Commission said more people voted on Tuesday than they did on Election Day in the 2020 presidential election. A political expert said the unusual turnout was history in the making. He also said that the results were not typical either.

"It brought about a really surprising set of results, that we didn't see the big wave, the big change, that one always expects in a midyear election," said Bill Lyons, the director of Policy Partnerships at the University of Tennessee. "The 50-50 split we have nationally, and it turned out to be almost a status-quo election. That was a surprise."

He said two topics dominated voters' minds on Election Day — the economy, and crime. Abortion treatment access was also a key issue for younger voters and helped motivate more people to vote, although he said it had receded in importance for many other demographics.

He also said that it was especially interesting to see such a high turnout in Knox County, where there were not many highly-contested races on the ballot.

"That's a general political interest and engaging the national discussion and wanting to participate," he said. "Again, higher turnout is something we've been wanting and more interest is something we've been wanting, but it does change the equation a bit."

With so many more people motivated to vote, he also said that neither Republicans nor Democrats are in a comfortable position. The higher turnout trended similarly to the political gridlock seen across the U.S.

He also said that the midterms could set the tone for the next presidential election.

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