MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Early voting turnout records are being shattered across the country, including in Tennessee, where more than 625,000 voters cast ballots in the first three days of early voting.
The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office says early voting turnout is up 54 percent from 2016 and 88 percent from 2012. This includes voters who have submitted absentee ballots.
In Shelby County, early voting turnout is up 103 percent from 2016 and 115 percent from 2012.
Compared to the last presidential election in 2016, early voting has increased by 57 percent in Fayette County; 60 percent in Dyer County; and 51 percent in Lauderdale County.
By the end of Saturday, over 110,000 people had voted early in Shelby County.
Rosa Henderson was among 17,000 people in Shelby County who voted on Saturday.
Though she votes in every election, she says the stakes are especially high this year.
“This year is important because of the presidential election,” Henderson said.
Though early voting turnout numbers are breaking records, WMC political analyst Michael Nelson cautions about reading too much into it.
“It’s too early to say that voter turnout overall is going to be dramatically different this year,” Nelson said. “Certainly, we can say that more people are voting early. They’re taking that option.”
Early voting starts on Monday in Arkansas and runs through Nov. 2.
The surge in early voting comes as President Donald Trump and former Vice-President Joe Biden get ready to meet for their second and final debate at Belmont University in Nashville Thursday.
“For those few people who have not made up their mind, I would think the debate on Thursday night will be what it takes to make a decision because it will be the last time to see the candidates side by side,” Nelson said.