Election Day looms for those who did not vote early - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Election Day looms for those who did not vote early

A record 78,899 voters survived long lines during early voting, but about 60,000 still have Election Day to reckon with. With that, the August 3 ballot is breaking more than local records.

"The longest one in the history of Shelby County, the history of Tennessee and the longest ballot in Tennessee," said Shelby County Election Commissioner OC Pleasant.

Registered voters are already turned off by the thought of long lines.

"It's really to be expected," said voter Kimberly Johnson.

Voter Peter Longley agrees.

"If it's gonna take two hours to cast your vote, I don't think a lot of people are gonna bother," he said.

So, before you hit the polls Thursday, Pleasant says you can get in and out fast by doing more than familiarizing yourself with the ballot, and skipping races you don't know about.

"Be prepared to wait at least an hour," he said.

Pleasant says you should not let your lack of time or your impatience keep you from your precious right to vote or from going through the entire ballot at least once.

"It's best to go when you have sufficient time to accomplish the wait," he added.

You should also factor travel time into your trip to the polls.

The commissioner also says the long ballot and long wait could mean tabulations will be delayed. They're usually done by 11 p.m.

"I would think that in order to be completely done, we would be an hour or so later than that," he calculated.

However, he expects voters to get an idea of which candidates will win by the ten o'clock news.

Pleasant says the best way to cure long lines at the polls is to have more machines. But, the question arises as to whether or not it's financially sound to have more machines for a ballot that happens once every eight years. The machines would then sit in a warehouse for seven years. Pleasant says there's also the option of leasing machines for longer ballots.

Another more unconventional option, he says, is to do away with precincts and have continuous voting, similar to early voting where you still have a district, but you can vote anywhere.

"In that way, voters would have more than one opportunity to cast their ballot. As a matter of fact, in this scenario, they would have some 20, 25 days to cast their ballots," Pleasant said.

Also, with term limits, several government positions are being vacated at once. Election experts have considered the idea of staggering terms so the ballot won't be so long. Pleasant says that could only happen if wording is changed in state and local election rules. This Election Day Thursday there are no quick fixes, so it seems patience is your best bet.

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