Tennessee voters: prepare now to vote in November election

(Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

Tennessee voters are encouraging to prepare now to vote in the presidential election on Nov. 3. Tennesseans should make sure their voter registration is up-to-date and make decisions about whether they will vote in-person or absentee by-mail if eligible.

“We want every eligible Tennessean to be ready to vote in the November election,” said Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “Whether voting in-person or by-mail we want your vote to count.”

Tennessee’s generous early voting period starts Oct. 14 and lasts until Oct. 29.

Voters who choose to vote in-person during early voting or on Election Day will see the same precautions used during the August election. Voters should expect to see signs with further safety instructions at their polling locations. Poll officials will be supplied with gowns, face shields, gloves and other PPE. All poll officials will be wearing face coverings and are trained in social distancing protocols. Voters will experience precautions taken such as single-use pens, disposable stylus to select their candidate and sanitizer at the polling location.

For voters, voting absentee by-mail county election commissions will start mailing out ballots in September. Election officials are currently taking steps to finalize the November ballot, including certifying August election results as well as waiting on both major parties to officially confirm their presidential nominees.

In Tennessee, voters must have a legal reason listed in the law to be eligible to vote absentee by-mail. Some of the most common legal reasons are voters who are 60 or older and voters who will be out of their counties during the election.

Eligible voters who have a special vulnerability to COVID-19 due to an underlying illness, physical disability, or other health condition and who cannot appear at the polling place on Election Day due to this condition may vote by absentee ballot under the ‘illness or physical disability’ reason. Likewise, eligible voters who are caretakers to individuals with a special vulnerability may vote by absentee ballot under the ‘caretaker’ reason.

Voters should consult trusted guidance from medical experts and use common sense in determining whether they have a special vulnerability. The CDC provides a website with helpful information that voters may wish to consult.

“If you make your request now to vote absentee by-mail, counties will be prepared to send you the ballot as soon as it is available,” said Coordinator of Elections Mark Goins. “Once you receive your ballot, vote it and mail it back in as soon as possible so it is ready to be counted on Election Day.”

Absentee by-mail ballots must be returned by mail. This includes the U.S. Postal Service and services like FedEx and UPS. Each state is different when it comes to election law. Tennessee law does not permit voters to turn in their ballots in-person or for the use of drop boxes.

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