Early voting begins for Memphis residents

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Friday marked the first day of early voting in the city of Memphis before Election Day on Oct. 3.

The results of the upcoming municipal election means deciding who be mayor, as well as other important city jobs.

Memphis residents can now vote next to the Election Commission downtown on Poplar and at 17 other early voting locations across the city.

People are definitely talking about the mayoral race, but officials are skeptical if it will increase voter turnout.

Johnny Arnold made a point to come to early voting on the first day it’s available.

“Wasn’t in and out in five minutes,” he said.

But for Shelby County Elections Administrator Linda Phillips, registration numbers were a lot lower than expected. She said  about 1,700 people registered earlier this month, and she expected something closer to 6,000.

“I want everybody to vote in every election, so I’d like 100% turnout,” Phillips said. “Typically in a municipal election, it’s something in the 30% range. I think that’s kind of low.”

The stakes are high to see who will lead the city for the next four years.

Ten challengers are taking on incumbent Mayor Jim Strickland, and you’ve probably heard a few of their names, like current Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer and former Mayor Willie Herenton.

“I think it might be tight this time, but maybe one’s going to do the best job,” Arnold said.

But the latest dollar figures don’t suggest as tight of a race.

When it comes to campaign contributions, Strickland has, by far, the most with a current balance of more than $900,000.

Next up, but far behind, is Herenton with around $60,000, and then Sawyer with $45,000.

WREG took a look at who’s contributing the money.

The FedEx Corporation Political Action Committee has given one of the biggest chunks to Strickland with a total of $7,500.

A group called BICO Associates, connected to Belz Enterprises, has given Strickland more than $8,000 dollars total.

No one has contributed nearly that much to either Sawyer or Herenton, but when it comes to voters, some things are just way more important.

“Need these streets fixed up. Potholes,” Arnold said. “Someone needs to do something about it.”

Everyone has a reason to come vote.


Early voting will be every day Monday through Saturday until Sept. 28. To vote early, residents can go to any of the 18 locations, no matter what precinct they live in.

Arlington municipal elections are next Thursday, Sept. 19. Early voting for that election ends Saturday.

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