Early voting patterns reported by the Shelby County Election Commission were showing a slim lead for Democratic voters, with the commission reporting a total of 14,879 votes cast at the 21 early voting sites by TSD press time Wednesday evening.
The three leading satellite locations were White Station Church of Christ – 1045; New Bethel Church – 1036; and the Agri Center – 924.
Early voting began last Friday (July 18th) at the Shelby County Office Building ahead of the Monday start for the satellite locations. The count at the Downtown site showed 1,233 voters had cast ballots there. Early voting ends Aug. 2nd.
Democrats hope the early-voting pattern holds as the final push to the Aug. 7th election draws near.
Longtime party loyalist Del Gill, who is also a candidate for Tennessee Democratic Executive Committeeman, District 33, male (there is a female position as well), said, “We have to double down on our base,” if the party’s leading candidates have a chance to win.
“Historic voting patterns have proven that Shelby County is 70 percent Democrat. That includes blacks, whites and others. And of those, 92 percent of African-American voters are Democrat. Of those, 42 percent will never vote for a Republican candidate in their lifetime. I think we can win,” said Gill.
Local party chairman Bryan Carson said despite being outgunned monetarily, the party has been out fanning the grassroots to drive voter participation.
“It has been an uphill battle but over the past five or six weeks we have come up with strategic plans and also raised $86,000 and we are putting all that money and resources to support our candidates,” said Carson. “We will be pushing hard on GOTV (Get Out The Vote) with mailouts, having our people out at the precints to urge voters to support the Democratic candidates. If we wake up on August 8th and find out that we lost but I feel we put our best foot forward, I can live with that.
“But what I can’t live with is waking up Aug. 8th and with a ‘woulda-shoulda-coulda’ feeling knowing that we did not put our best foot forward. We’re going all out.”
Carson said the “largest slate of candidates and ballot in some time” has presented some complications.
“You have so many qualified candidates, and when you are involved in the political arena in Shelby County the well runs dry when you have to run to the same individuals, same companies, asking for money. So we have resorted back to our grassroots efforts in grocery stores, in restaurants, going face to face talking about our candidates’ experience and their platforms and contrasting their ideas to the current leadership in Shelby County,” he said, adding that there will be a (printed) guide at the polls to “highlight our candidates. Our job is to excite the people to get there.”
Election Commission Chairman Robert Myers said the commission has been extra diligent to assure that the voting machines can bear the load of the election’s long ballot.
“The number of positions on the ballot makes it more complex because it makes it necessary to have many different ballots available for different areas of the county,” said Myers. “For example, the ballot you (the voter) may have for South Memphis is different from Cordova voters because of the different positions that you are going to be voting on. We went to the sites early on to make sure the equipment was working properly and that all precincts were properly equipped, then went back to re-verify that we could connect properly to the machines and computers so we could access the voters information.
“I just hope there is a heavy turnout. We have 730,000 registered voters in Shelby County and we want to encourage them all to come out and do so.”
Early Voting Results Through Tuesday, July 22
Source: Shelby County Election Commission
Democrats 7,841 52.0%
Republicans 6,794 45.7%
Independent 244 1.6%
Black 5,053 34.0%
White 5,868 39.4%
Other 3,958 26.6%
Male 6,576 44.2%
Female 8,303 55.8%
18-34 260 1.7%
25-34 542 3.6%
35-44 1,020 6.9%
45-54 2,304 15.5%
55-64 3,944 26.5%
65-Plus 6,809 45.8%