Early voting begins, Knox County predicts record turnout

By: Gordon Boyd Email
By: Gordon Boyd Email

KNOXVILLE, Tenn (WVLT) -- Tanya Dove wouldn't be anywhere else when early voting began in Tennessee Wednesday.

"I'm an early bird all over, she says. " When I go to work, church, shopping, everything!

Hundreds are keeping her company at Downtown West, and the
7 other early voting sites in Knox County

Dowtown West often had lines outside Wednesday, even with 48 voting machines available.

"I've been waiting a long time for this vote," says Tom Salter, voting in his tenth Presidential election. "I don't think I've ever missed a vote."

Voter Steve McDonald said "Came to (my) decision a long time ago," saying the first two Presidential debates confirmed his convictions for Republican nominee John McCain.

"I think it'll be the biggest election in the history of Knox County, says Election Administrator Greg MacKay.

Knox County has more than 251,000 people registered to vote, MacKay says.

More than 23,000 registered this year.

MacKay predicts more than 200,000 could cast ballots in this election, easily surpassing the record turnout of 2004.

Knox County's ballot includes a race for U.S. Senate, the House of Representatives, the Tennessee Senate and House, and an open seat
in the 8th District for Knox County Commission.

Voters also are being asked to amend the Knox County Charter to allow liquor-by-the-drink in unincorporated areas, to reduce the number of County Commissioners from 19 to 11, and to create provisions for
recalling elected officials.

But first-time voter Keisha Butts says the Presidential race is the contest that's pushed her to vote early.

"I guess everybody wants to show where they stand, and they want the right person in there, Butts says.

She cast her ballot for Democratic nominee Barack Obama.

Mr. McDonald, voting in his ninth Presidential election, says his is
a house divided; many of his wife's relatives support Obama, while he backs McCain.

"I don't know of anybody straddling the fence," McDonald says.

Ms. Dove believes most early voters are sending dual messages,
of hope and anger -- but "I don't put my trust in anybody but God."

Mr. Salter declined to say which candidate he's supporting, except
that he's convinced "it's time for something new."

His daughter, Larissa Justice, says the message of change resonates, but that voters need to take a larger view of what "change" means.

"I don't think this is gonna be an eeney, meeney, miney mo election. I think there are a lot of people out there that are still undecided, but hopefully the last presidential debates tonight (Wednesday 10/15)
hopefully, they'll take a look at that and make a decision."

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