What does it mean?
People are finally beginning to figure out the convenience of early voting.
This August, three times as many people -- 21,034 -- cast votes during the two-week early voting period that ended Saturday than the 6,750 early voters a decade before in 2004.
Time will tell how the jump in early voting, up from 18,374 in the August 2012 primary, plays out in final voter totals. But the really telling numbers are in the increasing percentage that those early voters make up in the final figures of votes cast.
In 2004, the fewer than 7,000 early voters made up 3.9 percent of all Hamilton County's registered voters, but they made up 21.5 percent of all ballots cast in Hamilton County. Total voter turnout that year was just over 18 percent.
In 2012, the early voters made up 8.5 percent of all registered voters, but they were responsible for more than 36 percent of all ballots cast.
Think what this year's early voters -- 10.2 percent of all registered voters -- might mean.
Clearly, we should think of early voters as the political faithful -- the ones who will always vote because it is important.
So this year's super strong early voting is a very, very hopeful sign.
Tennessee's 3rd District still hot
Incumbent U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann continues to show his negative temperament with the release of his fourth misleading television attack ad and second distasteful mailer in less than two weeks against his GOP primary challenger Weston Wamp.
Fleischmann's latest mailer shows a smoking gun with one bullet in the chamber and states: "Voting for Weston Wamp is like playing Russian roulette with your gun rights" because the NRA rates him with a question mark.
Is Russian roulette a symbol of any kind that you want your congressman touting in any way?
The newest negative TV ad claims Wamp profits from Obamacare because of his association with the Lamp Post Group, a startup incubator in Chattanooga that has helped fund and launch dozens of companies. Lamp Post launched American Exchange, a Chattanooga-based insurance brokerage group that makes money by connecting people with subsidized health insurance (like some Blue Cross plans) made possible by the Affordable Care Act.
Wamp's job is to consult with some of those startup companies on marketing and media strategies. He said he has never had a working relationship with the insurance brokerage firm, which now -- post the ACA's April open enrollment deadline -- bills itself just as a brokerage group and makes no mention on its website of subsidized insurance, or health care exchanges.
Before that, Fleischmann bag of bogus ads included a photo-manipulated picture of Weston Wamp holding a flaming cigarette lighter to a passport. The mailer reads, in part, "Weston Wamp supports amnesty for illegal immigrants." The body and hands holding the lighter and passport are not Wamp's, but his head was digitally pasted onto the passport-burner's body. And Wamp has not said he supports amnesty. The quote, actually a partial quote, is what honest people would call a comment taken out of context.
The entirety of what Wamp actually said during a televised debate sponsored by WTCI and the Chattanooga Times Free Press was this: "There are a lot of people who are illegally working. We need to find a pathway for them to be legal, but not citizens, but pay taxes. But unfortunately, Congress does nothing."
Wamp isn't lobbing negative attack ads because he rightfully thinks we voters are sick of dysfunction among our leaders. But if he were, he might point out that Fleischmann, in debates around the district, has sometimes appeared to choke back tears as he claims to "care" about the region and the people of the 3rd District.
Is Fleischmann's continuing effort to mislead you the way he shows he cares?
Pam Sohn has been reporting or editing Chattanooga news for 25 years. A Walden’s Ridge native, she began her journalism career with a 10-year stint at the Anniston (Ala.) Star. She came to the Chattanooga Times Free Press in 1999 after working at the Chattanooga Times for 14 years. She has been a city editor, Sunday editor, wire editor, projects team leader and assistant lifestyle editor. As a reporter, she also has covered the police, ...