Early voting for Sullivan Co. municipal elections underway, voter turnout low

KINGSPORT, TN (WJHL) – Early voting for Kingsport, Bluff City and Bristol’s municipal elections is underway.

Administrator of elections for Sullivan County Jason Booher said so far voter turnout is low, and based on early voting so far this year, he said there is potential to see a record low turnout in Kingsport.

Wednesday afternoon, the men and women vying for a spot on Kingsport’s Board of Mayor and Alderman gathered for an alderman candidate forum.

Jennifer Adler, Betsy Moore Cooper, F.D. Rack Cross II, Darrell R. Duncan, Robert Ellis, Colette George, Mark Vicars Jr. and Robert H. Williams are running for three 4-year seats. Joe Begley and Tom Parham are running for one 2-year seat.

They answered questions about infrastructure, economic development and the OneKingsport initiative.

But Booher said the people that would be voting for those candidates are not flocking to the polls.

“We’re looking at single digit percentage turn out in Kingsport right now if that trend stays true,” Booher said.

He said the fact that Kingsport mayor John Clark is running un-opposed factors in to the lower numbers, but also said low voter turnout in local elections has become a long standing trend.

“I think it’s something that’s been going on for at least two decades,” Booher said.

Booher said a city election costs taxpayers around $35,000 to $40,000, so he said he’s hopeful voters make their voices heard.

“All the things that may frustrate them that they may like or be excited about that their government is doing for them, it’s their time to say either I’m opposed to that or I endorse that,” Booher said.

Starting May 4, the National Guard Armory in Bristol and the Civic Auditorium in Kingsport will be open for early voters.

Early voting ends May 11th. Election Day is May 16.

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