Record turnout at Shelby County polls, voting hours extended

As the nation heads into the final full week before the November election, early voting in the Mid-South is already breaking records.

In an effort to cut down on long lines on November 4th, the Shelby County Election Commission is extending voting hours this coming week: polls will be open from 9:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Early voting began last Monday in Arkansas, and more than 130,000 of the state's voters have already cast their ballots.    
The latest early voting numbers for Shelby County reveal African Americans are outvoting whites.

And it's no secret that African Americans favor Barack Obama for president.

So far, 26.9 percent of African American voters have been to the polls, compared with 19.98 percent of white voters, and 20.06 percent of other voters.

Just under half of voters categorized as "other" are usually African American, which means Obama could potentially win more than 65 percent of the vote in Shelby County.

"It's not unreasonable to expect him to carry Shelby County by at least 100,000 votes," said pollster Berje Yacoubian.

Yacoubian says race is not the only factor swaying West Tennessee in Obama's direction.
Shelby County's female voters outnumber male voters, which bodes well for Obama, who's leading in the polls with women.

Shelby County Election Commissioner Myra Stiles says high African American voter turnout could tighten the statewide race.
"There's a large turnout also in Davidson County, which is very urban also. So I would think that we ought to look at Tennessee as a possibility of a tossup, or even going Democratic this year."

Stiles adds that traditionally republican Knox County has low voter turnout.

Yacoubian says it's possible an average 20,000 people a day could vote between Monday and Thursday, when early voting ends.

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