Early voting in the presidential, state and municipal races will begin Wednesday. And voting will look a little different, thanks to COVID-19.
COVID-19 safety procedures
Voters will be given a glove for their dominant hand upon entering the polling place. You will be asked to discard it when you leave and offered hand sanitizer before receiving your “I voted” sticker.
While waiting in line you will have to stay six feet apart from the person next to you.
All poll workers will be wearing masks, machines will be sanitized between voters and there will be a lot of plexiglass to keep people safe.
And then there’s the whole absentee voting thing.
The state law changed amid the coronavirus pandemic allowing anyone with a fear of the virus to submit an absentee ballot. Previously you had to meet certain criteria, like being ill or elderly, to cast an absentee ballot.
This summer, administrator of elections Cindy Pinner said the county may see quite a few absentee ballots. The largest number of absentee ballots in recent years has been 489.
Absentee ballots must be mailed.
“A lot of people try to hand us their ballots,” Pinner said. “We can’t accept them. They’re usually not too happy when we tell them we can’t accept it.”
Where and when you can vote early
Early voting for the Nov. 3 election will continue through Oct. 29.
There will be two locations: the Tipton County Election Commission, at 113 E. Church Street in Covington, and First Baptist Church, at 102 Kimbrough Avenue in Atoka.
Early voting will be conducted from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays; 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays; and Saturdays 8:30 a.m. to 2 p.m.
If you miss early voting and are not voting by mail, you have to vote in person on election day.
Who’s running for mayor and alderman?
In addition to the upcoming presidential election, there will be a lot of local faces on the ballot for mayor and aldermen. Here’s a sample ballot if you’d like to see it.
In Tipton County, every municipal mayor is part-time except for the City of Covington. The mayor is the chief executive officer of their city or town and is responsible for the city’s financial decisions and everyday activities.
Most municipalities have what is called a board of mayor and aldermen, which is its legislative board. Aldermen, and alderwomen, are the elected officials who represent the citizens’ interests. They serve with the mayor to govern the city, vote on ordinances and approve the city’s budget. In some cities they serve on committees to help make decisions specific to different departments, such as public works, public safety or parks and recreation.
In Covington, two aldermen represent three different districts of the city and one alderman from each district is on the ballot every election year. The other municipalities have aldermen at-large who represent the entire population.
Both mayors and aldermen serve four-year terms. To qualify, candidates must be a registered voter and have spent at least a year living in the city or town in which they intend to serve.
The Leader will publish more information about the candidates next week. Here’s who’s running:
In Atoka, incumbents Guy Critelli and Brett Giannini are running for re-election and challengers Jeremy Lightsey, Cody Pace, Penny Pace and Christy Renfrow are running as well. Voters will elect three aldermen.
Alderman Walker Adams, who is a county commissioner, is not seeking re-election.
Brighton Mayor Sarah Crocker has decided against running for re-election. Vice mayor Stephanie Chapman-Washam and former mayor Gus Smith are running to fill the position.
David Boone, Sonny Foster, Kristin Gardner and David Grape have qualified to run for alderman as have incumbents Shane Greer and George Smith. Former alderman and vice mayor Melissa Sartain is also running for a seat on the board.
Voters will choose four aldermen.
Incumbent councilwoman Julie Howard and councilman James M. Kenny are running for re-election.
Each of Covington’s three districts has opposition for the open seat on the board.
Alderwoman Minnie Bommer, who represents District 1, has decided not to run for re-election. Veteran alderman John E. Edwards, who served for more than a decade before running for mayor in 2018, is running and faces opposition in Jerry Hall and William Muex.
Alderman Keith Phelps, who has been filling the unexpired District 2 term of the late Jere Hadley, will not be running for re-election, either. Jere Mason, Houston Moss, Chris Richardson and Foreeta Yarbrough have filed to run for this position.
Incumbent C.H. Sullivan, in District 3, is running unopposed.
Voters will choose one person from each district.
Mayor Steve Fletcher and councilman Adam Hursh are running for re-election without opposition.
Incumbent Virginia Rivers is running for re-election and facing opposition in former mayoral candidates Paul Broughton and Celia Jones Chastain as well as Kenneth Greening and Sha’Te Toliver.
Voters will choose three aldermen.
Neither alderman Carl Somerville nor alderwoman Dr. Keneko Claybon are seeking re-election.
Campaigning is already underway for the contested mayoral race in Munford. County commissioner and current alderman Glenn Turner is challenging incumbent Dwayne Cole, who has led the city for nearly two decades.
Incumbents Ray Deneka and Lonnie Glass are running for re-election with no challengers, though Turner’s spot will be vacant.
Deborah Reed has announced she is running as a write-in candidate.
Here’s who’s running for house and senate seats
In addition these races, Bill Hagerty (R-Gallatin) and Marquita Bradshaw (D-Memphis) are running for the U.S. Senate seat held by retiring senator Lamar Alexander.
Republican Congressman David Kustoff, Democrat Erika Stotts Pearson and independent candidates Jon Dillard and James Hart are running for the 8th Congressional District seat in the U.S. House of Representatives.
State Senator Paul Rose (R-Covington) is running to keep his District. 32 seat. Democrat Julie Byrd Ashworth of Collierville is running against him.
Rep. Debra Moody is running unopposed.
For more information, see the Tipton County Election Commission’s site.