Voters in Atoka wait to vote at First Baptist Church. Some waited up to three hours to cast their ballot. Photo by Terry Killham

Early voting totals could surpass the record-high 2008 turnout, administrator of elections Cindy Pinner has suggested.

Twelve years ago, 17,554 people voted early and absentee. By 5 p.m. Wednesday, 10,404 ballots had already been cast by mail, in nursing homes and in person.

There is still another week to go.


“I think this could possibly be the largest turnout we’ve had,” she said.

Tuesday, Tennessee Secretary of State Trey Hargett announced more than 1 million Tennesseans had already voted.

Statewide, he said, there is nearly a 47 percent increase of in-person and absentee by-mail voters compared to 2016, with each county reporting higher numbers than ever before.

“At this rate, we are on pace to break the state’s previous early voting turnout record, set during the last presidential election,” said Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins.

Lines have been steady in both early voting locations, sometimes taking more than an hour from start to finish in Atoka.

“We just have more voters in Atoka,” Pinner said. “There are 6,046 in the Atoka precinct alone.”

During the early voting period, voters can visit either First Baptist Church on Kimbrough Drive or the Election Commission office at 113 Church Street in Covington, to vote.

“I hate that there are long lines, we’ve had to abide by COVID requirements, but I’m glad to see people out there voting.”

Pinner said to help move voters through the Atoka early voting location more quickly, two more machines will be added beginning Thursday.

“I’m sorry people have had to stand in line – we’ve had to abide by COVID guidelines and there’s a large turnout – but we’ll increase by two machines and rearrange (how things are set up).”

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. The last day will be Thursday, Oct. 29.

On election day, most polling locations will have five machines. Atoka will be increased to eight, but Wilkinsville, which is a smaller precinct, will have four. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

“There was no doubt this was going to be a large turnout,” Pinner said, “and we’re only halfway through.”

Echo Day
Author: Echo Day

Echo Day is an award-winning journalist, photographer and designer. She is currently The Leader's managing editor.