Election roster contains both presidential AND local races


With early voting set to begin this Wednesday, February 10, Knox County voters will be faced with a rather lengthy ballot. This year, several local primaries are on the ballot at the same time as the presidential primaries. And in the races for president, not only the candidates but also their delegates are up to be voted on. This can sometimes create a long and confusing ballot at the polling places. In order to help voters navigate these issues, The Focus is providing some guidelines to better understand the upcoming election ballot. Here are a few important things to remember when going to the polls:

It’s not just a presidential primary. While Tennessee voters will be making their choice of presidential candidates, there are also a number of very important local races going on in Knox County. These include: Property Assessor, Law Director, as well as County Commission and School Board races in several districts. Voters need to be aware that these races all appear near the END of the ballot, AFTER all the presidential candidates and several pages of delegates. Even if you choose not to vote on the delegates, It will be important to page through the entire ballot to these local races before casting your vote.


It IS a primary. On both the national and local levels, this is NOT a general election, but a party primary. That means voters will have to declare whether they are voting in the Republican or Democratic Primary when checking in at the polls. Tennessee does not allow “crossover” voting; therefore, you will only be able to vote on one party’s slate of candidates. For example, voters wishing to choose between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders will have to vote in the Democratic Primary, and will therefore only be able to vote on local Democratic races. The same is true on the Republican side.


Don’t be confused by ALL those delegates. The first thing voters will see on the ballot is the list of presidential candidates. After that, there will be a very long list (more than 100 names) of delegates pledged to each candidate. After casting their vote for president, voters will be allowed to select up to 14 of these delegates. You do not have to vote for delegates at all. Your vote for president will still be what determines who wins the most delegates. The important thing to remember is that the votes cast for the CANDIDATES will determine how Tennessee’s delegates are awarded, and the number each candidate will send to the convention. Voting for the individual delegates only helps determine which SPECIFIC people get to go to the convention, and NOT the number each candidate gets to send.


If you are confused – talk to an official. Do not be intimidated by the technology or the way the ballot is laid out on the screen. If the lengthy ballot on the voting machine is difficult for you to discern, you may still ask an election official for a paper ballot. The important thing is that you vote, and your vote is properly accounted for.

This is an extremely important election, both for Knox County and our nation. Regardless of your party affiliation or choice of candidates, we all need to exercise our sacred right to vote. Early voting begins this Wednesday, February 10, and Election Day is March 1.