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Memphis News & Weather | Memphis, TN | WATN - localmemphis.com

Record number of voters turn out on first day of early voting in Shelby County

Long lines seen at voting sites across the county through Wednesday morning and into afternoon

MEMPHIS, Tenn — Some Shelby County voters arrived before dawn and others reportedly waited as long as two hours during peak time at certain voting sites, to make their voices heard.

By 2 p.m. Wednesday, more than 12,000 people voted early in Shelby County, which was expected to break the record of more than 14,000 on the first day of early voting in 2016.

"People died for my right so taking advantage of it," Andrea Peet said.

Peet couldn't wait Wednesday, setting up her chair at sunrise to be one of the first in line at White Station Church Of Christ.

“Everybody get out and vote," Peet said. "It’s your right. Do it!"

Thousands of other voters joined Peet Wednesday across Shelby County, socially distanced and politically engaged.

"Amazing, wonderful, we all should practice our right to vote," Krist Chaney said.

"I think a lot of people are ready to get out there and vote and cast their ballot," Pam Weakley said.

Voters proved that, as lines downtown, in east Memphis and the Agricenter stayed steadily busy through Wednesday morning and into the afternoon.

"I expect that we are going to break all records," Shelby County Elections Administrator Linda Phillips said.

Phillips said Wednesday's larger turnout indicates more voters know who they are choosing this election year.

"I think in this election, you've already made up your mind, I'm seeing a lot of that, people want to get in, get voted and be done with it," Phillips said.

Several voters said they wanted to vote in person - and early - because of concerns of absentee ballot delays or issues.

"I did not want my ballot to get lost in the mail, I didn't want any issues," Paris Washington said.

"Watching some of the media with the lost votes, in the garbage cans and the whole bit, I want my vote to count," Weakley added.

Shelby County election organizers said mid-afternoons and Saturdays are typically slower times during early voting and they'll tweet live updates @ShelbyVote.

A reminder: registered voters can vote at any early voting location but must vote at their assigned precinct on Election Day.