Absentee voting well ahead of 2016 primary, nearing level of last presidential election

Secretary of State Tre Hargett speaks with Rep. Curtis Johnson (R-Clarksville) before Gov. Bill Haslam’s final State of the State address on Jan. 29, 2018 in Nashville. (Photo credit: Erik Schelzig, Tennessee Journal)

Requests for absentee ballots are well ahead of the number cast in the August 2016 primary and are already coming close to matching the levels of that year’s November presidential election, according to data gathered by The Tennessean‘s Joel Ebert and Carmel Kookogey.

The Secretary of State’s office said it doesn’t keep track of absentee ballot requests, referring the newspaper to local election commissions. The newspaper contacted officials in all 95 counties. Eighty provided information on how many mail-in ballots had been requested as of last week, nine refused to release data, and six did not respond.

A judge last month ordered the state to allow anyone who fears infection by the coronavirus to cast absentee ballots. The state is appealing that ruling, but it’s unlikely the Supreme Court will decide the issue before the Aug. 6 primary.

About 57,000 absentee ballots had been requested as of last week. That compares with about about 12,000 for the August 2016 primary and 64,000 for that year’s general election.

A look at the percentage difference between absentee ballot requests this year and the number cast in August and November 2016 follows after the jump.

County August 2020 primary Difference to 2016 primary Difference to  2016 general
Anderson 685 310% -35%
Bedford n/a
Benton 100 49% -39%
Bledsoe n/a
Blount 1,200 343% -21%
Bradley 400 225% -48%
Campbell 72 -25% -77%
Cannon 50 47% -62%
Carroll 108 170% -57%
Carter 419 124% -35%
Cheatham 265 334% -19%
Chester 111 127% -37%
Claiborne 122 -28% -60%
Clay 17 -82% -82%
Cocke 216 167% -33%
Coffee 284 457% -31%
Crockett n/a
Cumberland 789 393% -26%
Davidson 15,256 1902% 174%
Decatur 31 15% -78%
DeKalb 109 118% -47%
Dickson 570 239% -7%
Dyer 116 300% -47%
Fayette 451 573% 47%
Fentress n/a
Franklin n/a
Gibson 117 89% -64%
Giles 184 217% -25%
Grainger 216 184% -11%
Greene 496 240% -35%
Grundy 17 -53% -84%
Hamblen 389 278% -20%
Hamilton 4,034 604% 0%
Hancock 40 -60% -48%
Hardeman 86 -5% -81%
Hardin n/a
Hawkins 185 28% -62%
Haywood 146 13% -57%
Henderson 60 88% -74%
Henry 384 911% 13%
Hickman 90 210% -54%
Houston 145 101% -12%
Humphreys 233 124% -4%
Jackson 105 114% -24%
Jefferson 250 221% -71%
Johnson n/a
Knox 6,500 634% 24%
Lake 15 -68% -75%
Lauderdale 249 30% -21%
Lawrence 123 310% -55%
Lewis 75 241% -42%
Lincoln n/a
Loudon 1,268 1003% -3%
Macon 81 69% -35%
Madison 440 96% -61%
Marion 127 154% -56%
Marshall 159 130% -30%
Maury 500 415% -24%
McMinn 256 266% -43%
McNairy n/a
Meigs 95 102% -20%
Monroe n/a
Montgomery 1,168 385% -57%
Moore 41 52% -25%
Morgan 122 259% -37%
Obion 80 167% -74%
Overton 108 59% -48%
Perry 45 -46% -38%
Pickett 46 5% -60%
Polk 85 -27% -59%
Putnam 650 400% -7%
Rhea 159 71% -51%
Roane 454 158% -32%
Robertson 325 339% -32%
Rutherford 1,757 626% -4%
Scott 98 -45% -62%
Sequatchie 48 433% -48%
Sevier 550 461% -44%
Shelby 7,000 922% 19%
Smith 125 381% -7%
Stewart 92 2% -61%
Sullivan n/a
Sumner 1,547 507% -15%
Tipton 217 281% -41%
Trousdale n/a
Unicoi 120 82% -44%
Union 158 5% -47%
Van Buren 29 314% -43%
Warren 134 253% -34%
Washington 1,092 375% -23%
Wayne 34 -17% -77%
Weakley n/a
White 238 205% -7%
Williamson 2,046 1187% -26%
Wilson n/a

(Source: The Tennessean)

10 Responses to Absentee voting well ahead of 2016 primary, nearing level of last presidential election

  • Cannoneer2 says:

    The Secretary of State’s office doesn’t know the numbers, but allowing absentee ballots in this situation is bad. How about finding out? What is it you say… you DO here??

    • James B. Garrett says:

      When you request an absentee ballot, you do not request it from or through the Secretary of State’s office – you request it from your own county’s election commission. Therefore, I would understand why they (the Secretary of State) would not know the total number. By contacting each county’s election commission the THJ staff did the appropriate thing. Let me ask you a question . . . . Why is allowing absentee ballots a bad thing in this situation?

      • Cannoneer2 says:

        My stand is that allowing absentee ballots, no questions asked , is a good thing. It is our Republican friends in state government that are having such a fit about it. As for the Secretary of State, I expect a high bar for them, especially since Tre is the highest paid SOS in the nation. Basic information like absentee ballot totals should already be in their hands.

  • John says:

    Do my eyes deceive me, or is that ballot harvesting in Williamson County? Remember to wear your mask while you’re out rigging the election for Haslam/Hagerty.

  • Steve Cates says:

    Great to hear. I am so hopeful that Lee will not mess this up before we can vote in Nov. People should not have their voting rights taken away because of a pandemic and it’s foolish to think that the counties will have enough people to work the polls in the first place.

  • Beatrice Shaw says:

    I SERIOUSLY doubt anyone can rig an election this day and age. No worries. Absentee voting empowers all of us

    • James B. Garrett says:

      Beatrice, you are very naive! I have a lot of confidence in the election commissions, particularly here in Davidson County. If all counties follow the same procedures I feel Tennessee will be fairly secure in our voting. However, I still do not like “mail-in” voting. I feel there is the possibility of voter coercion at the voter level. Also, the is the possibility of lost ballots (both going to the voter or being returned by the voter) in the postal system which would diminish the actual count. I really worry about those states that allow mass mail-in ballots and ballot harvesting. These states impact national election results which impact us all. I really prefer one person – one vote and voting in person at the polling locations.

    • Cannoneer2 says:

      I’m convinced elections can be rigged even more easily this day and age.

  • Perry Aubric says:

    My wife and I just voted absentee this year for the first time in decades. We always like to vote in person, but this year is different. We qualified because we are both over 60 years old, which is also an at-risk factor for the virus. Of course, it is a two step process–first qualifying for a ballot, then actually receiving one. It is not a burdensome process, and there is no reason to deny qualified voters the chance to do this. It should be noted that first-time voters are not eligible for an absentee ballot.

    Getting qualified voters to support your candidate is not “rigging” an election, John. It is basic electioneering.

    Of concern here is not that more Tennesseans are casting their ballots, but that six county election commissions in this state–public offices operated at public (taxpayer) expense–think they don’t have to provide basic, non-confidential information to a reporter or any other citizen who requests it. These local yahoos, who apparently just don’t feel like they need to obey the laws of this state, need a lesson in the Sunshine Law. The more information and transparency the public (us) have, the better.

    If anyone is really worried about voter fraud, the real threat doesn’t come from imposter voting (which almost never happens), it comes from crooked election officials.

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