Election Commission shows 11.5 percent early voters -- mostly women -- cast ballots early

The Shelby County Election Commission has released voting totals today showing 48,655 people voted early in the special election to replace Willie Herenton.

That makes up 11.5 percent of registered Memphis voters - down from the 16 percent who voted early in the 2007 Memphis mayoral race.

Early voting ended Friday; Election Day is on Thursday.

Election Commission Chairman Bill Giannini said early voters generally make up about half of all voters in an election, meaning turnout in this special race will probably be on the lower end.

He attributed the relatively lackluster turnout to factors ranging from Shelby County Mayor A C Wharton's presumptive lead, to the election's abbreviated time frame and a general sense of apathy. A recent CA-Channel 3 poll showed Wharton ahead with 45 percent of the vote.

"Some of the media coverage of the perceived front-runner probably was a disservice to the process in some ways," Giannini said. "I think some of the polls in the past have been inaccurate and when some polls are widely regarded as fact, it dissuades voters."

The early figures also show that African-American voters and women far outpaced other demographics.

Women made up 63 percent of the vote, while African-American voters made up 50 percent, followed by 29 percent of white voters and 21 percent of other races.

The male-female ratio may appear particularly lopsided, but voting totals in past Memphis elections show women traditionally outvote men here. In 2007, women outvoted their male counterparts 62.8 to 37.2 percent. In 2003, the ratio was 61.8 to 38.2 percent.


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