Early voting for the Franklin municipal election began Wednesday, and the numbers so far are running low.
In-person voters for the first day totaled 101 — 0.19% of the nearly 53,000 registered voters in the city. Compared to the last city election in 2017, voter participation for day one is down from 0.28%. The commission has also received eight votes from nursing homes and 40 votes by mail so far.
Though this election is for aldermen at-large, covering the entire city, the first-day results were broken down by ward. Ward 1 (the northeastern portion of the city, where candidate Brandy Blanton lives) brought in 11 votes, Ward 2 (northwest, housing Howard Garrett and Bhavani Muvvala) brought in nine, Ward 3 (southern, where Michelle Sutton and Pearl Bransford reside) brought in 31 and Ward 4 (central and west, containing the homes of Mayor Ken Moore, Clyde Barnhill, Ann Petersen and the Williamson County Administrative Complex) brought in the most at 50 votes.
Thursday, the crowds were also sparse, totaling only 83 votes — down 0.12% from last election’s second day — and only two citizens set up camp outside the Administration Building in the over-90-degree heat to brandish campaign signs.
Susan Freeze sat in her camp chair with a “re-elect Brandy Blanton” sign. She said she’d known Blanton since she was 8 years old, and ever since their friendship began, Blanton has had an excitement for life and helping people, which spurred Freeze to publicly show her support.
“I’ve known her all these years, but I don’t even know whether she’s Democrat or Republican — she’s for everybody,” Freeze said.
Sitting next to Freeze was Cornelia Holland, Pearl Bransford’s campaign manager. She propped up her campaign sign and handed out informational flyers to passersby.
Holland said Bransford, like Blanton, sees a need and fills it. Freeze agreed.
“I think Brandy and Pearl are the same, because they see a need and go after it, not saying, ‘Man, I wish we could do something for so-and-so.’ They just do it,” Freeze said.
For Freeze and Holland, it’s important that local leaders get involved and serve the community outside of their city roles and are familiar with the scope of the role they are pursuing. They said they also wish residents would realize the importance of local elections.
“This is where everything begins — at your city,” Holland said. “Everybody gets excited about the governor or the president, … but these are the people that affect you. You don’t like traffic; well, they’re not going to do anything in Washington about your traffic. We might get some money out of them, but everything starts here. And so many people don’t vote.”
Voter Leo Baghdoian echoed this sentiment, saying it’s important to him to vote for his local leaders, as they handle the day-to-day issues.
“Local elections sound like a minor event, but they’re not,” he said. “They’re essentially as important as, say, a presidential election.”
Early voting ends Thursday, Oct. 17 and is held every day until then, aside from Sundays, at the Williamson County Administrative Complex from 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m.-noon on Saturdays. Election Day is Tuesday, Oct. 22.