Politics » Politics Feature

Early Voting: Low Turnout; Democrats Out-voting Republicans


With early voting destined to end Thursday of this week [today], Election Commission figures show that, through Wednesday, 32,524 people — or 5.85 percent of registered voters — had cast their ballot. Democrats cast 19,126 of this total, while Republicans checked in at 13, 368.

In sum, the turnout has been low (as usual), but Democrats have participated in early voting at a greater rate than Republicans, a trend which, if continued through election day on May 1st and especially through August 2nd — the finale for county general election voting — would indicate that, after several consecutive GOP sweeps in county voting, Democrats may finally have attained the political edge to which their greater numbers in Shelby County should entitle them.

The Election Commision’s figures also seem to be telling a story about the possible fate of the much-watched Shelby County mayor’s race — or at least the Republican-primary side of it.

Though Commission District 1 (Millington, North Shelby County), dominated by the GOP, began early voting with a significant turnout, the number of voters there ultimately sank to a level beneath several other predominantly Republican districts.

The figures through Wednesday, April 25, show 1,853 Republican votes in District 1, which is the North Shelby hinterland presumably dominated by GOP mayoral candidate Terry Roland. Of the major Republican districts, District 1 is, turnout-wise, fifth in numbers. Exceeding it in turnout of Republicans, from the top down, are District 3 (Bartlett), with 2,497 Republican votes; District 4 (Germantown) with 2,224 votes; District 13 (East Memphis), with 2,074 votes; and District 2 (Collierville), with 1,957 GOP votes.

The areas of Republican concentration, where a proportionately greater GOP vote has occurred in recent days, have been those of the south and east — in areas where the Republican establishment, which has been expected to favor Trustee David Lenoir, looms heavy.

Roland, of course, would be expected to get a share of these voes as well — perhaps enough to complement his votes in North Shelby and put him ahead. But it’s a chancey situation for the commissioner, and a somewhat more reassuring one for Lenoir, who is counting on a big vote in East Shelby to bring him in.

It’s a hard race to predict from such data alone, and perhaps a close one, overall.

The following graph indicates both the relative turnout of Republicans and Democrats and of the various Commission districts to each other.

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