Editor's Note: After publication, the Citizen Tribune was notified that the numbers provided for the 2016 primary were actually from the 2012 primary. While the 2020 early voting numbers are up significantly over 2012, there are behind early 2016 numbers. The story has been changed to reflect the 2012 dates.
The Tribune regrets the errors.
Early voting began in Hamblen County Wednesday with a total of 286 ballots cast, according to Jeff Gardner, administrator of Hamblen County elections.
If the first day is any indication, the county is in for quite an increase from the last presidential primary in 2012.
A total of 286 absentee and early ballots were cast Wednesday, a 172.3% increase over the first day of 2012 when 166 ballots were cast. On Wednesday, 229 Republicans voted and 57 Democrats cast a ballot, up from 135 and 31 respectively four years ago.
The two primaries are mirror opposites. For the Democrats, the presidential field is crowded but no one qualified for local races. For the Republicans the presidential field is light, with only two competitors running against President Donald Trump. Neither competitor is considered a serious challenger.
The Republicans do have contested races locally, however. Mike Reed and Jim Wills are running to finish the unexpired term for County Commissioner District 5. Incumbent Eileen Arnwine, who was appointed in the fall, is running against Scott Cutshaw and Edna Greene for the unexpired term of County Commissioner District 14.
Incumbent Scotty Long, who left his county commission seat in the fall when he was appointed county trustee, is running against Jason Darnell.
The only other contested race is for Road Commissioner District 13 & 14 where Larry Carter faces E.C. Long Jr.