Shortly before polls closed at 7 pm Thursday, some Davidson County voters were still waiting in line to cast their ballots.
Voters posted pictures of lines at Shelby Park Community Center, with some claiming wait times of over an hour.
Davidson County Election Administrator Jeff Roberts said an increase in traffic towards the end of the day is typical. Poll workers at Shelby Park Community Center reported a wait time of about 45 minutes as of 5:30 pm
Voters who are in line when polls close will still be able to cast their ballots.
The Shelby Park Community Center serves up to 3,600 registered voters, according to Roberts. It is equipped with four voting machines and two scanners. As of 5 pm, Roberts said about 10% of the county’s registered voters turned out to vote Thursday, which would mean about 360 people at Shelby Park Community Center.
Roberts said the length of the ballot – which is the longest in Davidson County’s history – accounted for some of the longer wait times at the polls.
Polling place officers reported their wait times mid-afternoon, and any locations with a wait time of longer than 30 minutes were sent extra machines at that time, Roberts said. Two Rivers, Brentwood Church of Christ and Hillsboro Presbyterian Church received more machines.
Voters at the John P. Holt library in Brentwood faced long lines throughout the day. One voter said it took her over an hour to wait in line and vote.
But at other polling locations Thursday morning, the ballot was longer than the wait times.
According to volunteers in the Antioch and Hillsboro neighborhoods, fewer than a dozen people cast ballots during the morning hours.
In the first two hours of the day, traffic in places like Brentwood averaged 200 with a 15-minute wait time. The voting body was primarily composed of older people.
“I think we need some changes,” said Michelle Oyaghiro, a voter from Antioch, within the 5th Congressional District. Oyaghiro, 53, is a Black woman and politically identifies as a Democrat. She says she would like a new governor.
“Just new fresh people with new ideas. Hungry to get changes for Nashville and Tennessee,” Oyaghiro said.
“I’m hoping that we can go to more humanitarian-focused efforts versus business corporate-oriented efforts,” said Kirsta Wilson, a voter at the Antioch High School precinct. Wilson, 32, is a white woman who politically identifies as independent. She also wants a new governor and is passionate about abortion rights. Wilson said she’s voting because of the recent Roe v. Wade decision.
“I just wanted to make sure I had some input on the ballot,” said William Coleman, a voter at Brentwood Library.
Voters are given a choice at polling locations between Republican General Election, Democratic General Election and General Election ballots. A handful of voters took to social media Thursday afternoon to report issues with receiving a general election ballot when they intended to pull a partisan ballot.
Roberts said it’s fairly common for voters to mistakenly pull the wrong ballot in primary elections. Voting machine operators ask for ballot choice confirmation at several points in the voting process, and voters have several chances to review their choices before scanning their finalized ballot.
Voters who wish to change their ballot before scanning it may do so, but after a ballot is scanned, votes are final, Roberts said.
Cassandra Stephenson covers Metro government for The Tennessean. Reach out to [email protected] Follow Cassandra on Twitter at @CStephenson731.