The Nashville Primary election is less than three weeks away, and early voting begins Friday, July 13. The early voting period begins 20 days before an election and typically ends five days before Election Day. You may choose a location convenient to work or home. There are no assigned locations. Early voting sites are open during the day, some evenings and on Saturday.
Waits are usually shorter than on Election Day, and if you need to update your address, the process may be completed more quickly than on Election Day.
For most Nashvillians, it is ideal to vote early. For many it is critical.
According to sociologist Vincent Roscigno, whose research helped the ACLU and the NAACP sue the state of Ohio to block a law that halted early voting, historically for African Americans, early voting is extremely important. Not just because minorities are more likely to take advantage of it, but also because the policy itself addresses systemic barriers they face.
“These costs associated with voting (in lost pay, in childcare, in transit fares) are higher for minorities and the poor. Which is why they are among the largest beneficiaries of early, flexible voting,” said Roscigno. “Blacks are four times less likely than Whites to own their own car, and they’re three times more likely to rely on public transit or walking to get to work. Black adults are twice as likely as Whites to be single parents, with particular implications for voting,”
For many, voting is not just about who you are going to vote for, but also about figuring out how to get to the polls, whether or not we have the spare time, and who will watch the kids while we are there.
Early voting, in short, isn’t merely a matter of convenience. It’s recognition of the fact that many forms of historic discrimination and economic inequality have also, as a downstream consequence, made it harder for minorities to vote.
In Tennessee, employers are required to supply employees with up three hours of paid time off to vote if their shift starts within three hours of the polls opening or ends within three hours of closing. Employees must request leave by noon the day prior to the election.