JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — Numbers from the Washington County Election Commission show an increase in people registering to vote. Administrator of Elections Dana Jones sees this as showing more people moving to the area, and even a possible change in the political dynamic of the county.
Since June 2020, the election commission’s data found an increase in registered voters by 16,358 people. This puts the commission at over 88,000 registered voters.
Jones said inquiries sent out by the election commission have found that a number of people moving to the county are from states like California and Michigan.
Despite the number of people moving to the area and registering to vote, the commission’s numbers have found that only 1 in 10 people actually show up to the polls.
“County elections are very concerning because we have more people moving into the area [and] registering to vote than we do coming out to vote,” said Jones.
Jones believes new voters in the area could change the political dynamic locally and even nationally, but that’s only if residents of Washington County show up to vote.
“And if you want to have a say in that process, I need you to come out and vote, because if you don’t, your neighbors will,” said Jones.
According to election statistics taken from the 2022 primary, around 17% of active voters in Washington County voted Democrat and about 80% voted Republican.
“Whenever you have people coming in large numbers from outside of the region, you will have some cultural change,” said a political science historian from East Tennessee State University, Daryl Carter. “You will have, perhaps, some political change.”
Carter said there are many motives as to why people are moving to the area, including the climate, low taxes, and conservative viewpoints.
He added that this theoretical political shift wouldn’t be immediate, if at all.
“We’ll see it probably most immediately in local races to the extent that people get involved in those and vote,” said Carter. “A lot of people still don’t vote in elections, even though the last couple have been up overall, nationwide.”
Carter said it is best for everyone to get informed on the issues that affect them and the region, and to always practice your right to vote.
The Washington County Election Commission is preparing for the elections that take place next year and is in need of poll workers for election days. There is a workshop-style class for poll workers offered on Oct. 10 at 5 p.m. and Oct. 11 at 2 p.m. The 5 p.m. class still has open slots. You can sign up for a class by calling the commission’s office at (423) 753-1688.