Early voting for TN presidential primary begins Wednesday - WSMV Channel 4

Early voting for TN presidential primary begins Wednesday

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NASHVILLE, TN (WSMV) -

Tennessee is looking to play a critical role in the tight race for the upcoming Republican presidential nomination.

Early voting begins Wednesday for the March 6 primary, and as excitement builds there are some potential challenges in store.

Tennessee Republicans are already trying to figure out the logistics for the Republican National Convention. But who those delegates will be nominating remains to be seen, and the Volunteer State is going to play a big role.

"I think the presidential campaigns recognize Tennessee as important. It represents a wide swatch of different kinds of Republican primary voters," said Chris Devaney, with the Tennessee Republican Party.

Super Tuesday could be the day a Republican candidate emerges from the neck-and-neck race for the nomination.

Campaign officials for former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have already announced their candidates will visit Tennessee before the March 6 primary. There is still no word from former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney or U.S. Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas.

And a wide-open race could mean a big turnout at the polls.

"I think the turnout is going to be strong in our Republican presidential preference primary, because it's going to be the first opportunity to voice their opinion about the direction of the country," Devaney said.

A contested primary means there could be a much larger turnout than originally expected. And that could mean a larger test for the new voter ID law the legislature passed last year.

"There's always work to do, and we always wanted to get better. So we're going to take any lessons we learn in March and apply those to what we do in August. And we take the lesson in August and apply them in November," said Secretary of State Tre Hargett.

Election officials have been working feverishly to ensure all goes smoothly for the first big test of the new voter ID law, and poll workers have been issued a training video.

If you forget your photo ID, you can still cast a provisional ballot and come back to your local election officials with the photo ID within two business days.

"Nobody will be turned away. And if someone is turned away they need to call our office so we can handle that situation quickly," Hargett said.

For more information on early voting, visit: http://www.tn.gov/sos/election/earlyvoting.htm

And to see what forms of photo ID will be accepted at the polls, visit: http://www.tn.gov/sos/election/index.htm

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