Photo by Angele Latham / MTSU Sidelines
With the unofficial vote count in from Tuesday’s midterm elections, Rutherford County Election Commission data shows that 99,602 people voted in Rutherford County, which is an approximate 20 percent increase from the 2014 midterm election total voter turnout.
In 2014, there were only 57,631 votes cast in the election, making for an approximate 37 percent turnout. This year, that jumped to around 57 percent.
“Our projections were 55 percent turnout for this election, so it wasn’t unexpected,” said Alan Farley, the Rutherford County elections administrator. “Voters were motivated, and the high number of votes cast reflects that.”
Ken Blake, an associate professor of journalism and director of the MTSU Poll, said that there were several possible factors contributing to the increased turnout.
“The ease of early voting (and) the promotion surrounding early voting might have played a role,” Blake said. “Rutherford County’s switch to a ‘voting center’ model might have helped, too. Although, I haven’t looked at whether turnout was higher in Rutherford than in similar counties that used the traditional precinct voting model.”
Rutherford County is the first county in the state to allow voters to choose any of the available polling locations rather than assigning residents to specific precincts.
“Exit polling suggest that President Donald Trump was very much on the minds of people who went to the polls in this election,” Blake said. “I suspect he was a key motivating factor, both among those who support him and among those who oppose him.”
In Tennessee, Marsha Blackburn defeated Democratic candidate Phil Bredesen in the U.S. Senate race. Blackburn consistently embraced Trump’s support during the race and touted claims that she would help his agenda move forward.
Motivation by people in the county to participate in early voting seems to also be a significant factor. 65,956, countywide, early voted, making for a more than 40,000 early vote increase from the 2014 midterms.
To view results from the midterm elections in Rutherford County and Tennessee, visit here.
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