RUTLEDGE – Early voting to start the process of electing a president and state and local lawmakers starts today.
The Grainger County Election Commission office will be open for voting Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday, 8:30 a.m. - 4:30 p.m. and Wednesday and Saturday, 8:30 a.m. - noon. The last day of early voting will be Thursday, October 29. Election Day is Tuesday,
The presidential ballot lists the names of Republican Donald J. Trump, Democrat Joe Biden and seven independent candidates.
On the state level, voters will choose a U.S. Senator and U.S. Representative from the 2nd Congressional District and a State Senator from the 8th District and State Representative from the 35th House District.
Republican Bill Hagerty and Democrat Marquita Bradshaw, along with nine independents, are seeking to replace retiring Sen. Lamar Alexander.
U.S. Rep. Tim Burchett is running for his second term in the House of Representatives. He is opposed by Democrat Renee Hoyos, whom he defeated to win the seat in 2018. Independent Matthew Campbell is also seeking the seat.
State Sen. Frank Niceley and State Rep. Jerry Sexton are unopposed for new terms in the Tennessee General Assembly.
The names of independent candidates for president and the Senate can be found at the election commission’s sample ballot online at graingervotes.com
The municipalities of Bean Station, Blaine and Rutledge will have elections for local governing boards.
Bean Station has four candidates for two four-year terms on the board of mayor and aldermen. They are incumbents Jeff Atkins and Patsy Harrell and challengers Johnny Brooks and Ron Wonderly.
Blaine is beginning the process to reduce the size of its board from 10 members to seven. Three candidates are on the ballot for the three vacancies on the board of aldermen. They are incumbent aldermen Gabe Black and Jimmy Copeland and newcomer Tyler Braden.
The reduction process will be completed in 2022 when voters elect a mayor and three more aldermen.
In Rutledge, all five seats on the board of mayor and aldermen are to be filled for two-year terms. Mayor Fred “Speck” Sykes is unopposed for a third term. Ward 1 Alderman Martha Ann Cameron and Ward 2 Alderman Benny Atkins are unopposed on the ballot. Incumbent Aldermen Ed Boling and Jason Day did not file qualifying petitions to seek reelection. They later registered as write-in candidates and their names will not be on the ballot. Any other name in write-in slots will not be counted.
Election Administrator Gina Hipsher said the same COVID-19 protocols will be in place for the current voting cycle that were used in August.
All election workers will wear masks. Social distancing guidelines will be used. Four voting machines will be in use. Voting machines will be sanitized after each use. Hipsher said voters are not required to wear masks, but they are encouraged to do so.
Each voter will be provided a baggie containing a pen, a cotton swab and an “I Voted” lapel sticker. The pen can be used to sign registration forms. The cotton swab can be used to turn the wheel on the voting machines.