Breaking down early-voting after strong final day

If you haven't seen it yet, today's story breaks down final early-voting numbers. We had a solid final day, with more than 7,000 people showing up to push the final early-voting number close to 30,000. The final three days of turnout brought about half of those numbers, leading me to believe that a lot of people have truly been waiting to either a) make up their minds or b) make completely sure they were on the right side of the issue.

Based on that and the lack of robust campaigns pushing people to early vote for any sustained period, it's possible to see turnout exceeding 60,000 and possibly pushing 70,000. Now, that's still in the 15-17 percent turnout range, but the judges deciding the various litigation can say with certainty a large sample of the voting population determined the issue.

In terms of demographic breakdowns, registered black voters really pushed the final-day surge, with 4,038 showing up, or 55.6 percent of all final-day voters, compared to 1,438 (19.8 percent) for registered white voters and 1,784 for those registgered as "other," which usually entails more recently-reigistered voters who did not disclose race. The early-voting breakdown goes thusly -- 15,060 registered black voters (50.8 percent), 7,883 registered white voters (26.6 percent) and 6,730 registered as "other" (22.7 percent). If you figure the actual number of non-white and non-black voters here is about 5 percent, then it looks like about 62.5 percent of the early-vote comprises black voters, 32.5 percent white and 5 percent "other."

Some people, by the way, have asked what happens if the referendum goes down. Assuming that the City Council can somehow undo its surrender vote, it seems plausible that the all-suburban Shelby County Schools will get special school district status. That is, if Germantown, Collierville and Bartlett don't go after the opportunity to go for municipal school district status (see today's story on the Bartlett meeting last night -- taxes would likely at least double for a Bartlett municipal district). But assuming any combination of that happens, it's not implausible that we'd be doing the referendum all over again --  so that what is now Memphis City Schools Board of Education becomes the Shelby County Board of Education.

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As the process for merging Shelby County's schools accelerates into action, we'll provide bonus coverage here at, with a particular focus on the 21-member transition team and the 23-member unified school board. Comment early and often. If you have any tips or suggestions you wish to share, contact Zack McMillin at or 529-2564.

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