Curious Nashville: Why Early Voting Probably Won’t Return To East Nashville | Nashville Public Radio

Curious Nashville: Why Early Voting Probably Won’t Return To East Nashville

Oct 18, 2018

Roughly half of Nashville voters in recent years have been casting their ballots during the two-week early voting period. The convenience of early voting is often cited as a reason. But one place where that’s not an option is in East Nashville.

That prompted this submission to WPLN’s Curious Nashville:

I think I have a good idea why, however ... why is there no early voting location in East Nashville?

In fact, early voting used to be offered on the east side — at a church in Inglewood, then at a middle school and finally at a fire safety office. But none of the locations made much difference, said Jeff Roberts, election administrator.

“As far as the number of people voting in early voting — they were dead last.”

In 1998, for example, just 71 people voted early in East Nashville, compared to about 10,500 citywide. The following year, it was 273 out of 18,528.

Election officials phased out the East Nashville location, reasoning that options in Madison and downtown were close enough. And Roberts said they’ve heard little demand for its return.

“We think we’ve got a pretty good blanket out there,” Roberts said. “But that doesn’t mean that the population in the area may change and there may be interest in the future.”

He notes that unlike Election Day, when polls are open for a matter of hours, it’s tougher to find early voting locations willing to be disrupted over 14 days.

“So it’s not like we have people just beating down our door here to give us a place for early voting.”

That said, the Davidson County Election Commission always has a public comment period during its regular meetings. The group could entertain requests for early voting locations, and Roberts said it would help anyone’s case if they had a venue readily available.