CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (WDEF) – With eight days to go until Election Day, 58 million voters have cast ballots early – surpassing the total number of early votes in 2016 by more than 8 million.
In a year of record-breaking early voter turnout, some citizens experienced longer than usual wait times at polls across Hamilton County. However, in many cases, the wait times look worse than they actually are.
One early voter, Riley Stafford, says that the overall process was fast and simple.
“I got here at 12:30 and I was out by one o’clock. It was very easy,” says Stafford.
Due to the pandemic, long lines span the sidewalks as only a small number of voters can enter the building at a time.
Each precinct has five check-in stations and a coronavirus compliance officer enforcing social distancing and limited entry.
However, lingering fears over catching the virus didn’t seem to phase voters waiting to cast their ballots.
Lynn Schmissrauter says that the stakes of not voting were just too high.
“It’s a big election, it’s an important election. And I think people are understanding how important it is to exercise the right to vote and to get out and, you know, I’ve always thought you really can’t complain if you don’t vote, you know, you don’t have a role in the complaining or you know any of that if you don’t vote,” says Lynn Schmissrauter.
The enthusiasm among early voters doesn’t show any signs of slowing down. In fact, it’s projected that the number of early voters could hit anywhere from 90 to 100 million before November 3rd.
Hamilton County has seen record numbers of people participating in early voting. But despite the long lines, county officials say that most people are in and out in thirty to sixty minutes. They’re encouraging early voting in order to produce a smoother Election Day.