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Early voting – It’s on!

earlyvoting 600Anna Richardson walked assuredly, a smile on her face, clutching the documentation she received after voting for the first time in her life.

For Richardson, 52, her first voting experience was an early-voting journey. She was among those who cast ballots Wednesday morning at the Shelby County Office Building at 157 Poplar Ave. on the first day for early voting.

Early voting for the May 6th Shelby County Democratic and Republican Primary Elections runs through May 1st. Voting at satellite sites begins on April 25th. Until then, those who choose to weigh in early must take advantage of the Downtown opportunity.

"The process was easy," said Deborah Young, another first-day ballot caster. "Basically, I walked in, showed my I.D. and they helped me get started. I quickly made my vote and now I can go on with my day."
Richard Holden, the Election Commission's administrator of elections, said nearly 30,000 people are expected to early vote, which has been the trend since 2010. "Typically, 60 percent of the voters are female and 40 percent are male," said Holden.

Regina Caldwell said she only had voted twice before casting her ballot on Wednesday.

"I never thought my vote would count," said Caldwell, who wasn't into sharing her age. "But I think this should be a year of change for the City of Memphis and for me."

As the early-voting process unfolds and the days tick off before the May 6th Election, word still is out on whether U.S. Atty. General Eric Holder and the Justice Department will look favorably on requests to dispatch federal monitors to Memphis. The Rev. Kenneth T. Whalum Jr. of the New Olivet Baptist Church has formally requested such intervention and Ninth District Congressman Steve Cohen is pressing the case. Both point to the error-marred August 2012 elections, with a judge setting aside the outcome in a school-board race that the Election Commission ruled Whalum "lost." That ruling is on appeal.

"That had to do with our efforts to comply with all the redistricting that occurred," said Robert Meyers, Election Commission chairman. "That issue has long been solved, so that shouldn't prevent voters from coming out and voting. They'll get the right ballot."

Meyers has said election monitors would be freely welcomed, if ordered.

"We have policies and procedures in place to assure that everyone that registers in the eligible time period, shows up in our system as a registered voter and hopefully will have a voter registration card that they can take with them to the polls," said Meyers.

Walking toward the Shelby County Office Building to cast his early-voting ballot, Michael Wells said, "Sometimes mistakes happen and I don't think those past errors were intentional. I still plan to vote today."

As Wells made his way toward his destination, several candidates and numerous supporters were lined up the sidewalk on Poplar Avenue with brochures and signage.

Greg Grant, who voted early, said it was important to do so because you never know what the weather may be like or what difficulties may prevent you from making it during primary election. And, said Grant, it's important to exercise due diligence before voting.

Early voting at the Shelby County Office Building is from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays (April 19th and April 26th. There will be no voting on April 18th in observance of Good Friday.

Here are the details for early voting at satellite sites:

Beginning: Friday, April 25th through Thursday, May 1st from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. On Saturday, April 26th, the sites will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

(For a listing of all early voting locations, times and candidate information, visit www.shelbyvote.com or call 901-222-1200.)

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