Turnout for the first four days of early voting in the Nashville special mayoral election is abysmally low, with a total of only 845 ballots cast so far.
Only 277 votes were cast on Friday, 89 on Saturday, 220 on Monday, and 259 on Tuesday, according to a report sent to The Tennessee Star and other local media outlets by the Davidson County Election Commission late Tuesday.
Only ten more days of early voting remain between Wednesday and Saturday, May 19, the last day of early voting (early voting is not open on Sundays). The election date is Thursday, May 24.
The Howard Office Building downtown is the only early voting location open between now and Thursday.
On Friday, another ten early voting locations will be open until May 19:
Belle Meade City Hall
Casa Azafran Community Center
Edmonson Pike Library
Goodlettsville Community Center
Green Hills Library
The low early voting total so far for the May 24 special mayoral election contrasts dramatically with the early voting for the recently completed May 1 transit referendum, when just a little more than 59,000 residents of Nashville/Davidson County early voted, an average of more than 4,000 early voters over the 14 days the polls were open for early voting.
The volume of early voting during the May 1 transit referendum–where Nashville/Davidson County voters decisively rejected the Briley backed $9 billion transit plan by a 64 percent to 36 percent margin– increased towards the end of the early voting, with just over 11,000 of the 59,000 early votes cast on the last day of early voting, April 25.
Still, the average of less than 215 votes cast per day over the first four days of early voting for the special mayoral election is dramatically lower than early voting in the August 2015 mayoral election, when 900 votes were cast on the first day. As is the case this year, early voting in that election during the first week was limited to the Howard Office Building.
About 106,000 votes were cast in the August 2015 mayoral election, and about 123,000 votes were cast in the recent May 1 transit plan referendum.
As the early voter turnout numbers for the May 24 special mayoral election continue to at record low rates, several sources familiar with Nashville politics tell The Tennessee Star that they continue to move down their own estimates of what the final voter turnout may be on May 24.
Estimates began in the 85,000 to 95,000 range last week immediately after the May 1 transit plan results were known. Over the weekend, after Friday’s early voting tally of just 277 ballots cast was known, several sources began to say the turnout might be as low as 60,000.
Today, after the anemic four day early voter turnout of 845 ballots cast was reported, several sources told The Star total turnout for the May 24 special mayoral election might be as low as 50,000.
One source, a long time community activist in Nashville offered this explanation for the low voter turnout:
“Most Nashville residents are angry with the corporate leaders and the Metro Nashville officials who are pouring all the resources of the city into building up downtown, while they are ignoring the neighborhoods where most people live. The resounding defeat of the transit plan was due to that anger,” the activist said.
“That anger is still there, but no one is really all that enthused by any of the candidates on the ballot, and especially the candidate that represents the status quo. I think people are gravitating towards the candidate who has the most traction, the highest likelihood of beating the status quo,” the activist said.