Big Turnout For Early Voting In Knox County

Knoxville (WVLT) -- We've reached the halfway point in early voting for the February primaries, and it looks like more of your neighbors are voting than ever before.

Volunteer TV's Rob Pratt has been looking at the numbers and has more on the explosive growth in turnout and what may be driving it.

The numbers really tell a story here.

With heavy focus on county elections and a wide open presidential race, one thing is clear, voters who have stayed at home in the past are voting now.

Early voting turnout is already on a record pace, but the real rush may be just beginning.

Knox County Administrator of Elections, Greg Mackay says, "I suspect that every day is going to be busier than the day before."

Wednesday alone, over 1,600 voters cast ballots in Knox County.

Let's put that in perspective.

Through seven days of early voting, 8,200 have voted this year.

In the last presidental election, the seven day total was only 3,239, that's two-and-a-half times as many voters.

There was also an increase in voter registration.

In the last six months, 9,300 new voters registered.

In the same period in 2004, 7,500.

What group of voters is leading the charge?

Mackay says, "We don't keep the specifics on it, but just from watching at the counter, I noticed in the last few days of registration we had quite a few young people coming in."

Early voter Matthew Watson says, "I was involved in some political activity as an undergraduate, and it was like pulling teeth to get students and our age to come out and participate, but it has markedly improved."

27-year old Matthew Watson voted early today.

He says a lot of his friends have done the same.

Watson says, "The presidential election being so wide open, the way it is, it gives young people a feeling that their vote really counts more than it normally does."

With so many voting already, why are more people voting everyday?

Mackay says, "Sometimes the political situation varies, people wait to see who's in the race, who's out of the race. Once that's been established, I think we're going to see a big upturn in voting."

Early voting usually accounts for 40 to 60 percent of the total in Knox County.

Your last chance to vote early is January 31.

For more information on when and where you can vote, click on the link below.

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