Early voting for Tennessee’s August election begins this week and everyone is encouraged to take advantage of the opportunity to avoid wait times.

Early voting runs from Friday, July 17 through Saturday, Aug. 1 and will be held at the Trousdale County Election Commission office, located at 214 Broadway. Hours are 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday, 8:30 a.m.-6 p.m. on Thursday and 8:30 a.m.-noon on Saturday.

Absentee voting by mail is available to those who meet the required criteria. Anyone wishing to do so should contact Administrator of Elections Steve Paxton at 615-374-2712 to determine if they qualify.

Highlighting the local ballot will be a measure to increase the county’s local option sales tax by a half-cent from 9.25% to 9.75%.

County commissioners held open house forums earlier this year to discuss the measure, which estimates at the time said could bring in roughly $320,000 per year. If passed, 53% of the money raised would automatically go to the school system with the remainder going to the county’s general fund.

Also on the local ballot are races for property assessor and road superintendent. Mike Potts and Tim Wilson are vying for the property assessor’s position after Dewayne Byrd opted to retire, while Bill Scruggs is unopposed for reelection as road superintendent.

Two school board seats are being contested, with incumbent Denice Jackson facing Barbara Towns in District A (county districts 1 and 2) and incumbent Mary Helen McGowan facing Jason Sullivan in District C (county districts 5 and 6).

Branden Bellar, who serves as county attorney for Trousdale County, is seeking election as Circuit Court Judge for the 15th Judicial District after John Wootten retired in January. Bellar is facing Michael Collins of Carthage.

The Tennessee primary has contested races for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Lamar Alexander. Fifteen Republicans and five Democrats are seeking their respective party’s nomination for the November election.

U.S. Rep. John Rose, State Sen. Ferrell Haile and State Rep. Terri Lynn Weaver are unopposed in their respective primaries.

Tennesseans voting early or on Election Day should remember to bring valid photo identification with them to the polls. A driver’s license or photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, by Tennessee state government or by the federal government are acceptable even if they are expired. College student IDs are not acceptable.

“The safety of voters and poll officials are our top priority,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett in a press release. “With social distancing measures and many other safety precautions in place for this election, I urge voters to take advantage of Tennessee’s generous early voting period.”

During early voting and on Election Day, Tennesseans are encouraged to do their part. This includes wearing a face covering and maintaining a six-foot distance from poll officials and other voters. Voters should expect to see signs with further safety instructions at their polling locations. All poll officials will be wearing face coverings and will be trained to social distancing measures.

Reach Chris Gregory at 615-374-3556 or cgregory@hartsvillevidette.com. Contributing: Staff reports

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