Early voters line up at polling places across Shelby County

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Voters waited in long lines at several polling places in Shelby County on Wednesday, day one of early voting in the Nov. 3 elections. 

By noon Wednesday, the Shelby County Election Commission said 7,697 people had voted early.

This year is a little different with COVID-19.

Early voters wrapped around Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Midtown, and there was a long line at Riverside Missionary Church. There was also a line outside the Shelby County Election Commission an hour before polls opened at 9 a.m.

Several early birds said they got there early to avoid the crowds and make sure their vote was counted. 

With COVID-19, voters are also trying to keep themselves safe.

“When it comes to Election Day, I know it’s going to be super crowded, so I said, let me go ahead, I have the time to do it this morning,” said Chrystaline Fenton.

Elections officials are trying to make sure voters are safe as possible when they come inside the building. There is hand sanitizer on various tables and yellow circles to make sure voters stay six feet apart.

The Shelby County elections administrator said the first day of earlier voting is always the busiest, especially during a presidential election, but if you time it right you can avoid a long wait.

Linda Phillips said to watch the election commission’s Twitter feed.

“Usually afternoons are slower. Downtown here on Saturday is very slow generally,” she said.

While there have been issues with some machines, it’s been taking voters about 30 minutes to cast their ballot.

Early voting ends on Oct. 29. For a list of the 26 early voting sites in Shelby County click here.

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