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Early Voting A Week In & Other Political Notes

A look at the numbers for early voting in advance of the Nov. 2 election day seems in order. The Shelby County Election Commission data for the first week of early voting is in.

As we’ve tweeted (@memphisdaily), over 39,000 – or 6.6 percent – of Shelby County’s 603,000 voters have voted early so far. Early voting goes through Oct. 28.

The data tells anyone who cares to look at www.shelbyvote.com everything about the early voters except how they voted. It gets slightly less specific with this election because there are no primaries, so no division of voters in Democratic and Republican columns.

Here’s the breakdown by race and sex:

  • White: 52.4%
  • Other*: 26.1%
  • Black: 21.5%
  • Female: 52.7%
  • Male: 47.3%

* other is voters of other races or voters who did not indicate their race at all on voter registration forms.

The turnout has been higher in the suburban areas based on the breakdown of which election day precinct the early voters live in.

The 11 Germantown precincts had turnouts between 10.9 percent and 15.3 percent. The top turnout countywide by percentage was 17 percent in 57-00 which votes at Second Baptist Church on Walnut Grove Road on election day.

But because the precincts are different sizes, percentages don’t always tell the whole story.

The actual numbers of early voters by the precincts they live in confirms the bigger suburban turnout so far.

Through Wednesday, only 5 of the 66 election day precincts with suburban prefixes like GER and BAR and COL had a turnout below 175.

Lakeland 01 had the highest number turnout in Shelby County with 660 early voters from that area. It was followed by 635 in Germantown 04 and 602 in Collierville 04.

The highest number turnout in a Memphis district (for our general purposes the ones with numbers as prefixes instead of letters) was in 80-02 at Kirby Woods Baptist Church on Poplar in East Memphis. There were only two other “city” precincts that cracked 400 through Wednesday, 57-00 at Second Baptist and 68-03 at Shady Grove Elementary School.

As we’ve pointed out in our election coverage, turnout for this election cycle in the past has been relatively high, 46 percent four years ago when the ballot featured the general election statewide U.S. Senate race between Harold Ford Jr. and Bob Corker. 66 percent way back in 1970 when there was a hot U.S. Senate race in which Republican Bill Brock upset Democratic incumbent Albert Gore Sr. and Memphian Winfield Dunn was the GOP nominee for governor and beat Democrat John Jay Hooker..

This time around the consolidation charter seems to be calling the tune that voters are dancing to in Shelby County.

Our Friday edition which goes online at 4 this afternoon has the latest in our series exploring what’s in the charter as well as a look at some doubts about the lawsuit over the consolidation vote count being expressed by one of the first Memphians to question the two separate vote counts.

And we’ve also got the latest drama between Mike McWherter and Bill Haslam in the governor’s race over guns and permits for those guns.

We’ve also got more coming up in the near future on the statewide referendum on the amendment to Tennessee Constitution that would make hunting and fishing a personal right. The story that kicked off the reaction is in Thursday’s edition of TDN.

Wharton and Luttrell, on Getting in the Game

I think it was president Calvin Coolidge who once opined the business of the nation is business.

To that end, the city and county mayor were both singing out of the same hymnal to different crowds Wednesday.

To Shelby County Commissioners in the afternoon, county mayor Mark Luttrell was blunt.

“We have almost overregulated ourselves into poverty around here,” Luttrell said. “We are digging our own economic hole by the impediments that we’re placing in the way of economic development in our community.”

To a crowd of journalists and bloggers in his 7th floor conference room at City Hall Wednesday night, Memphis Mayor A C Wharton bemoaned the need for companies that want to do business here to have to go to the Industrial Development Board, the Airport Authority, the Center City Commission, city and county government, and on and on.

“It’s a deal-killer,” Wharton said.

A few hours earlier, he and Luttrell were seated side-by-side before the IDB to convince the board to grant Cargill Inc. a tax incentive. Cargill is among a growing number of employers asking for incentives to stay put – whereas the IDB in the past has been mostly about reeling new folks into the city.

Wharton told the board, as The Daily News reported online Wednesday, government officials are “on pins and needles” working to keep what Memphis has got.

I think it’s fair to say whether Memphis and Shelby County get folded into one metro government is not the most important thing that will be decided by the consolidation vote next month. Even more important is how the outcome – whatever it is – will affect Memphis and Shelby County’s ability to, as Wharton likes to put it, “get in the game” – the economic development game.

That’s just my two cents.

On Consolidation and The Injunction

So the votes will be counted in the consolidation referendum on the Nov. 2 ballot.

They will be counted by the rules, so to speak, as they stand now – a vote total for inside Memphis and a vote total for outside Memphis.

But the Shelby County Election Commission will not certify the results at least until there is a ruling from Federal Judge Thomas Anderson on the court challenge to the “dual majorities” requirement of state law.

That’s the upshot of the preliminary injunction Anderson has now issued in the court case that seeks a single countywide vote to decide the fate of the metro charter.

Both sides in the lawsuit, filed earlier this month, had agreed to the injunction before Anderson signed off on it.

Many questions remain about an end game that the preliminary injunction confirms probably won’t happen when the polls close on the evening of Nov. 2.

Does the injunction barring certification of election results remain in place if whoever loses before Anderson seeks an appeal to the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals?

When will Anderson hear the case?

Meanwhile, attorney and retired Circuit Court Judge D’Army Bailey has offered a cautionary note on this that we will explore in Friday’s edition of The Daily News. If you get our email edition or go online, you will see it at around 4 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

Bailey and Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy first questioned the dual majorities requirement in April.

Several months later, Bailey got a summary and opinion from the Legal Defense Fund that he revealed this week.

The opinion from attorney Ryan Haygood concluded a challenge of the dual majorities would “likely be unsuccessful.”

And Haygood cautioned that pursuing such a challenge and losing could set in motion an erosion of standards in the Civil Rights Act. Attorneys have long weighed whether asking a court to rule on a question of law might make things worse for their side of a broader issue if the answer is not the one they want.

We will go over those reasons which have a lot to do with the city’s unique political history.

This is just the latest part of what has become a civic discussion at the end of a busy election year that promises to continue even after the court rulings decide how the votes will be counted and what results will be certified.

It’s proof that we are in a period of political transformation and where we will be at the end of that transformation is still an open question.

Some Lighter News for Monday – About U2

It’s not quite Memphis news, but Memphians will still be interested to know this. Courtesy of the Nashville Scene, the Internet is abuzz with rumors U2 may be bringing its 360 Degrees Tour to Vanderbilt Stadium next year.

I know I wouldn’t mind making that three-hour drive.

January Paychecks

As if anyone needed more proof that when lawmakers flirt with sweeping change the results tend to trickle down in unintended ways, FTN Financial chief economist Chris Low pointed out something in a webinar Thursday afternoon that has been largely overshadowed in the debate over tax cuts.

FTN Financial is a division of First Tennessee Bank.

Low noted with dismay that lawmakers left the question of whether they’ll extend soon-to-expire tax cuts unresolved when they departed the nation’s capital to come home and campaign for the midterms.

If the problem was politically treacherous before the midterms, wonder how pleasant the debate will be in a lame duck session when congressmen whose days are numbered would decide whether to kill or keep expiring tax cuts amid a brutal and lingering downturn?

Anyway, Low threw another monkey wrench into the mix. Congress theoretically has time to keep some or all of the tax cuts in place before the clock strikes midnight on Dec. 31.

However –

Payroll processors typically need plenty of lead time in which to get next year’s tax tables in hand so they can work in the right withholding amounts for people who collect a paycheck. Not much has been said publicly about what will happen if Congress doesn’t get finished until the eleventh hour.

Should the Treasury or IRS allow a grace period that keeps everything the same for now? Even if tax cuts are extended for everyone, some people are privately wondering whether there will be enough time to stop paychecks from taking a temporary tax hit come January.

Dansette

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