Halfway through the early voting period, Wilson County residents have turned out in record numbers to cast their ballots ahead of the Nov. 3 General Election.
Elections Administrator Phillip Warren said that as of Tuesday, more than 29,800 people have voted, which is two-thirds of the 40,000 who voted early in 2016, and there are still seven days left to early vote.
“We’ve got a record turnout, huge turnout,” Warren said Wednesday, adding that an additional hour is being tacked on to early voting Monday through Oct. 29. Voters can cast their ballots at any of the five early voting centers from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. next week.
“The lines look long, but they move fast,” he said. “It’s 30 minutes at most. You can’t get a hamburger in 30 minutes.”
The county is averaging eight voters per minute, he added.
Local voters say this election is even more important than usual at the national level.
“I don’t want to wait for the last minute,” said Marie Ferrell of Lebanon, who was standing in line shortly after 8 a.m. Wednesday at the Wilson County Election Commission office on East Main Street. “This is not just another election, I think.”
While Ferrell declined to say which presidential candidate she was voting for, she did sound an optimistic note.
“It’ll all work out one way or another,” she said.
Lebanon’s William A. Price, who is Black, said he was early voting to avoid the long lines, “supposedly,” on Election Day. But, he added, “It’s so important for me to vote because so many people in my race have been disgraced, stopped from voting.”
Price is voting Democrat, he said.
Billy Kegley, also of Lebanon, said, “I think the country is in a difficult situation right now. There are pretty clear lines that define (the presidential candidates’) philosophies.”
Kegley also said he was early voting to avoid having to do it on Nov. 3.
“I just want to beat the crowd,” he said. “I think Election Day is going to be pretty chaotic.”
While encouraging early voting, Warren also predicted a routine Election Day.
“We’ve never had long lines on Election Day,” he said. And, with residents able to vote on Nov. 3 at any one of 18 voting centers spread across the county, he doesn’t see that changing.
Warren said he has had people show up to be “poll watchers” for the first time this year. President Donald Trump put out a call for people to monitor voting, fearing a “rigged” election, but Warren said those who have signed up locally haven’t been a problem
“We’ve had some poll watchers sign up,” he said. “We typically don’t have any. They’ve gone through training and they’ve been good to work with.”
Another unique thing this year is that members of the public have been bringing treats for election workers, just as is being done for firefighters and police officers.
“That’s really cool,” he said. “I can’t say enough about the quality of people in this county.”
Registered voters can vote early at the following locations from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. today and Friday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, and 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Oct. 29.
• Election Commission office, 203 E. Main St., Lebanon
• Mt. Juliet Community Center, 1075 Charlie Daniels Parkway, Mt. Juliet
• Watertown Community Center, 8630 Sparta Pike, Watertown
• Gladeville Community Center, 95 McCreary Road, Gladeville
• Lighthouse Church, 6141 Saundersville Road, Mt. Juliet (Poll closes at 5 p.m. on Wednesday)