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Sullivan County residents urged to vote early due to social distancing practices
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Sullivan County residents urged to vote early due to social distancing practices

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Early voting starts Friday in Sullivan County for the Aug. 6 election, which features a handful of competitive races for Board of Education and constable seats.

The election will also determine primary victors for several seats in the Tennessee Senate and House of Representatives, as well as primary victors for seats in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives.

Here’s what you need to know before heading to the polls.

Early and mail-in voting

Early voting will run Friday through Aug. 1 at the Slater Community Center in Bristol, Tennessee and the Civic Auditorium in Kingsport. Those polling locations will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to noon on Saturdays, and registered voters can cast ballots at either location. On Election Day, voters will cast ballots at their designated polling locations.

Sullivan County Administrator of Elections Jason Booher urged county residents to vote early because of the social distancing protocols that will be in place at the polls on Election Day.

“It is likely that we will have some voters waiting in line outside of the facility or building in which (they’re) voting (on Election Day) because of the social distancing requirements,” Booher said. “We don’t know what the weather will be for Election Day.”

Booher added that it could seem like there are long lines at the polls on Aug. 6, but “voters need to keep in mind that there is a 6-feet-apart rule in place, and the line will obviously look longer than it actually is,” he said.

Beyond the 6-feet rule, the Election Commission will require election officials to wear face masks or shields, provide single-use ink pens to voters and implement other social distancing protocols outlined on its website. Voters are also encouraged to wear masks, practice social distancing and bring their own hand sanitizer and ink pens.

Residents can also vote by mail if they’re concerned about going to the polls during the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the Election Commission’s website, they need to complete a vote-by-mail application by July 30. Ballots must be mailed to the Election Commission and received by the close of polls on Election Day.

County general elections

Four county Board of Education board seats will be on the ballot, and all are contested.

For the District 1 seat, incumbent Mark A. Ireson is competing with Mark D. Harris; for District 3, incumbent Matthew Spivey is competing with Mark Vicars Jr.; for District 5, incumbent Randall Jones, the current vice chairman of the board, is being challenged by Jason K. Horton and Grover Blane Starnes; and for District 7, incumbent Jane A. Thomas is competing with Mary Rouse.

Voters will also choose new county constables, but only a few spots are contested.

Jesse R. Griggs and Brian Malone are competing with incumbent Larry Mullenix for the two constable seats in District 8. In District 9, which has two seats, incumbents Gary Churchwell and Doug Woods are competing with Randall L. Bowers and Tim J. Lane. G. Dwain Hittinger is competing with incumbents J. Scott Anderson and Rodney G. Pierson for the two spots in District 10. And in District 11, which has three seats, incumbents Marshall H. Buckner, James O. Hagy and Ralph T. King are competing with Lance Sawyer.

The District 11 County Commission seat, currently occupied by Joe Herron, is uncontested. Herron stepped in to fill the seat after Pat Shull vacated it when he was elected Kingsport’s mayor. Herron isn’t running for the next term, and Tim Bradshaw is running unchallenged for the seat.

The ballot will also ask voters to choose between retaining or replacing Carma Dennis McGee as a judge of the Court of Appeals, Western Division.


One of the most crowded races in the primary elections is Tennessee’s District 1 seat in the U.S. House of Representatives, which Republican Phil Roe is stepping down from when his term is complete at the year’s end. Sixteen Republicans and three Democrats are vying for their parties’ nominations to seek that seat.

The Republican primary contenders are Jay Adkins; Phil Arlinghaus; Richard Baker; Chance L. Cansler; John Clark; Rusty Crowe; Steve Darden; Chad Fleenor; Robert D. Franklin; Josh Gapp; Diana Harshbarger; David B. Hawk; Timothy Hill; Chuck Miller; Carter M. Quillen; and Nichole Williams.

Chris Rowe, Larry J. Smith and Blair Walsingham are competing for the Democratic nomination for the seat.

Meanwhile, another large crowd — 15 Republicans and five Democrats — is competing in the primaries for the U.S. Senate seat occupied by Lamar Alexander. Alexander is leaving the office when his current term ends.

The Republican primary contenders for the seat are Clifford Adkins; Natisha Brooks; Byron Bush; Roy Dale Cope; Terry Dicus; Tom Emerson Jr.; George S. Flinn Jr.; Bill Hagerty; Jon Henry; Kent A. Morrell; Glen L. Neal Jr.; John E. Osborne; Aaron L. Pettigrew; David Schuster; and Manny Sethi.

The candidates for the Democratic nomination to that seat are Marquita Bradshaw; Gary G. Davis; Robin Kimbrough; James Mackler; and Mark Pickrell.

Also on the ballot is the District 3 Tennessee House seat. The Republican candidates seeking their party’s nomination are Scotty Campbell and Neal Kerney. No Democratic candidates are running for the seat. | 276-645-2511 | Twitter: @swadely

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