Though voters were slowly trickling in at the Williamson County Recreation Center Tuesday for the Franklin municipal election, Craig Owen said the poll workers were prepared in case that trend changed later in the day.
“It’s been a little slower than usual, and it has not been a stellar attendance,” said Owen, election coordinator for the Rec Center location. “But if everybody should show up at one time, we’re ready for them.”
There were around 50 voters who showed up at the Rec Center by around noon, reflecting a pattern that emerged after early voting when only 3.4% of the 52,812 registered voters in the city of Franklin cast a ballot in the election for alderman at-large and mayor.
Polls close at 7 p.m. in the election pitting at-large aldermen Brandy Blanton, Clyde Barnhill and Pearl Bransford against Michelle Sutton, Howard Garrett and Bhavani Muvvala, respectively. Ann Petersen is running unopposed in her re-election bid for at-large alderman, as is Ken Moore for mayor of Franklin.
“I feel that turnout is really low and that could be a good thing or a bad thing, and we won’t know until 7 tonight,” said Blanton, who had stopped by the Westhaven club house location. “There are different schools of thought [on why turnout is so low]. It either means people are pleased or they don’t care. It’s hard to say. If we knew, I think we’d try to fix it somehow.”
Garrett had also stopped by Westhaven on his final day of campaigning. At only 26 years old, he is running against an opponent with 27 years of experience as an alderman.
“This is my first campaign, but this will not be the last time,” he said. “I’ve run a very strong campaign. I’ve had a lot of support, learned a lot and met a lot of great people. … It’s been a great journey, regardless of what happens.”
The low turnout in this election perhaps offers one silver lining for both voters and poll workers alike. This is the first election in which the Williamson County Election Commission’s new paper ballot machines have been used, and it gives all concerned a breaking-in period of sorts.
“They’ve been received very well,” Owen said of the machines. “We’ve had some question, but mostly it’s been a easy process.
“Of course, if we had introduced these new machines in next year’s election, it could have been chaotic. So this is sort of a warm-up for us.”