Early voting near 200,000 mark with one week in pre-election day period

By , Daily Memphian Updated: October 21, 2020 8:48 PM CT | Published: October 21, 2020 8:48 PM CT

Early voting in advance of the Nov. 3 election day in Shelby County should crack the 200,000 mark by Thursday, Oct. 22.

Thursday marks one week to the end of an early voting period that is outpacing turnout to this point in the 2008, 2012 and 2016 presidential general elections locally.

Preliminary turnout figures from the Shelby County Election Commission show a turnout of 173,661 through Tuesday.

Ballot Basics: Early Voting Oct. 14-29

At the same point in early voting four years ago, the turnout including absentee ballots was 94,036. The six-day total in 2012’s early vote was 88,214. The 2008 six-day early vote total was 93,856.

The turnout in 2008 for the complete early voting period was more than 250,000 while the complete totals in 2012 and 2016 were under a quarter of a million.

The early voting period is 14 days with no voting on Sunday. The early voting periods in the three previous elections in this cycle had fewer early voting sites and shorter hours.

Local leaders plan for election surprises beyond ‘incivility’

A new “I voted” sticker debuted at the 26 early voting sites Wednesday with the logo of the Memphis Grizzlies. The stickers are in a limited supply that may not make it through the one-week mark.

Shelby County Elections Coordinator Linda Phillips said Wednesday evening that while the post-weekend turnout remains ahead of the pace in the three previous presidential elections, the turnout is less that it was in the first four days of the period.

The period opened Oct. 14 with socially-distanced lines at every early voting site that continued into the second and third days. The third day, Oct. 16, saw the highest daily turnout so far – 32,493.

More than 111,000 cast ballots in first 4 days of early voting

In the previous three presidential general elections in Shelby County, the last day of the voting period has seen the highest daily turnout.

Working with a different count of 145,304 that appears to be the early vote count through Monday, the website and app govote901.com offers a more detailed demographic breakdown on the turnout that shows:

  • 61% of the early voters are women. Of the 88,000 women, 43% are Black, according to voter registration forms that do not require voters to indicate their race. Most of the women, 63%, are over the age of 50.
  • 13% -- or 19,000 -- of the overall turnout are new voters with an average age of 55.3 years.

Looking at those first-time voters by their ages:

  • 5,612, the largest grouping of the new voters, are over age 50. Another 5,489 are ages 18-25 and 5,200 are ages 26-40.

The top 25 precincts represented in the early vote turnout through Monday – the home addresses where the early voters live and areas where they would vote on election day – logged individual turnouts that ranged from 2,239 to 1,270 that accounted for 25.7% of the total turnout.

At the top of the list with 2,239 voters is precinct ARL1, which votes election day at Arlington United Methodist Church.

A total of 17 of the 25 precincts at the top of the 166 precincts by turnout had similar suburban prefixes that usually but not always signify an area outside the city of Memphis.

The top numbered precinct within the city of Memphis was 57 in East Memphis, which votes on election day at Second Baptist Church. The church on Walnut Grove Road is also an early voting site. The precinct had the fourth highest total with 1,776 voters.


2020 Elections Presidential Election 2020 early voting

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Bill Dries

Bill Dries

Bill Dries covers city and county government and politics. He is a native Memphian and has been a reporter for more than 40 years.


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