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League of Women Voters

Tennessee Voting Guide

Registration Deadlines
In Person:
Tuesday, July 3, 2018
By Mail:
Postmarked by Tuesday, July 3, 2018
Election Dates:
Thursday, August 2, 2018 (Primary Election)
Department of State
312 8th Avenue North
9th Flr Snodgrass Tower
Nashville, TN 37243
Phone:
615-741-7956
Fax:

Eligibility Requirements

To be eligible to vote in Tennessee you must be

  • A U.S. citizen
  • 18 years or older before the date of the election
  • A resident of Tennessee (The residence of a person is the place where the person's habitation is fixed and is where, during the periods of absence, the person definitely intends to return.)
  • Not disqualified under the law

ID Needed for Voter Registration

Identification is not required during registration but must be provided at the polls. See "ID Needed for Voting" for more information.

If you register to vote by mail, the first time you vote you must present an acceptable form of ID. Examples of acceptable IDs are:

  • Current photo ID with voter's name and photo
  • One of the following: a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that shows the voter’s name and address.

Voters who register by mail must vote in-person the first time they vote after registering.

ID Needed for Voting?

A photo ID is required when you vote. All voters must present an ID containing the voter's name and photograph when voting at the polls, whether voting early or on Election Day. Any of the following IDs may be used, even if expired:

  • Tennessee drivers license with your photo
  • United States Passport
  • Photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security
  • Photo ID issued by the federal or Tennessee state government
  • United States Military photo ID
  • State-issued handgun carry permit with your photo

IDs that are not acceptable:

  • College student IDs and photo IDs not issued by the federal or Tennessee state government

Who is exempt?

  • Voters who vote absentee by mail
  • Voters who are residents of a licensed nursing home or assissted living center and who vote at the facility
  • Voters who are hospitalized
  • Voters with a religious objection to being photographed
  • Voters who are indigent and unable to obtain a photo ID without paying a fee

If you do not have a photo ID you may obtain a free photo ID from the Department of Safety and Homeland Security at a driver service center. You will need proof of citizenship (such as a birth certificate), two proofs of Tenessee residency (such as a voter registration card, utility bill, vehicle registration/title, or bank statement), and if your name differs from that on your primary ID, proof of the changed name (such as a certified marriage certificate, divorce decree, certified court order, etc.). If you do not have a photo on your driver's license and no other form of valid photo ID, you may visit a driver service center to have your photo added to your license for free upon request.

If you do not bring a valid photo ID to the polling place you may vote a provisional ballot. You will then have two business days after Election Day to return to the election commission office to show a valid ID.

For more information visit the Tennessee Secretary of State website.

Registration Deadline

You must register 30 days prior to the election. Registration in person depends on the office hours of each county elections office.

Verify Voter Registration

To verify your voter registration status, please use your state's voter verification tool.

Absentee Ballot Process

Tennessee has two forms of absentee voting: absentee voting in person and absentee voting by mail. Under preexisting Tennessee law, first-time voters who register to vote by mail cannot vote by absentee ballot; they must vote in person. To vote by mail, you must fall under one of the following categories:

  • You will be outside the county of registration during the early voting period and all day on Election Day
  • You or your spouse are enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited college or university outside the county of registration
  • Your licensed physician has filed a statement with the county election commission stating that, in the physician's judgment, you are medically unable to vote in person. The statement must be filed not less than 7 days before the election and signed under the penalty of perjury
  • You reside in a licensed facility providing relatively permanent domiciliary care, other than a penal institution, outside your county of residence
  • You will be unable to vote in person due to service as a juror for a federal or state court
  • You are 60 or older
  • You have a physical disability and an inaccessible polling place
  • You are hospitalized, ill, or physically disabled and because of such condition cannot vote in person
  • You are a caretaker of a person who is hospitalized, ill, or disabled
  • You are a candidate for office in the election
  • You serve as an election day official or as a member or employee of the election commission
  • Your observance of a religious holiday prevents you from voting in person during the early voting period and on Election Day
  • You possess a valid commercial driver's license and certify that you will be working outside the state or county of registration during the early voting period and all day on Election Day

You may request a by mail ballot by writing to your county elections office or fill out an absentee ballot request here. You may also email your request with an attached document including a scanned signature. Upon receipt of the request, the local election commission will mail an application for ballot to you. However, if you want to expedite the application process, you may place the following information in the request for ballot:

  • Your name
  • Your address
  • Your Social Security number
  • The address to mail the ballot outside the county (this applies only when the reason for voting by mail involves that you will be outside of the county during early voting and on election day)
  • The election you wish to participate in
  • The reason you wish to vote absentee
  • Your signature
  • Date of birth

A request that contains this information will be treated and processed as an application for ballot, and a ballot will be mailed to you. Unless you are an individual who has registered to vote by mail and therefore are on the permanent absentee voting register, you must appear in person to vote in the first election after the registration becomes effective. If you are a by mail registrant who has already voted in person since the registration, then no additional information will be required to vote by mail.

You may request an application for by mail ballot no earlier than 90 days before the election and no later than seven days before the election. To be processed for the next election, the application must be received by the election commission no later than 7 days before the election. The county elections office must receive the ballot by mail no later than the close of polls on Election Day. Once the election office issues an absentee by mail ballot to you, you can only vote by mail. If you notify the elections office that you have spoiled your ballot or have not received the ballot, the elections office shall supply you with subsequent voting supplies. The county elections office will reject the old application and send a new application to you immediately by mail to be completed and returned again. The by mail ballot must be received by the county elections office through the postal mail, it can not be hand delivered.

Overseas citizens and U.S. military personnel can find information on how to register to vote and request an absentee ballot at the Overseas Vote Foundation.

Overseas and Military Voters

You are a Military or Overseas voter if you are in uniformed services, living overseas OR a spouse or dependant of a uniformed services voter. To get registered and vote, you can utilize Overseas Vote Foundation.

If you have additional questions about elections and voting overseas you can use our state specific elections official directory or contact the Overseas Vote Foundation.

Early Voting

Early voting is available and no excuse is required. The early voting period for generally begins 20 days before an election and ends 5 days prior to the Election Day. You should bring your voter registration card plus an acceptable photo ID when you vote early.

In a city election where there is not any opposition on the ballot there is no early voting.

For more information on early voting, contact your local county election commission office.

 

Election Dates

The next election date is Thursday, August 2, 2018 (Primary Election). The registration deadline is Tuesday, July 3, 2018.

Contact your local Board of Elections for more information.

Poll Worker Information

In order to be a poll worker in Tennessee:

  • You must be registered to vote in Tennessee
  • You must be at least 17 years of age to serve
  • Political affiliation generally preferred
  • You must be a resident of state house legislative district or county for the 30 days prior to the election
  • You must complete required training
  • Students who are 17 and meet all other voter registration requirements may be appointed

You will be entitled to compensation

To sign up, contact your local board of elections.

Polling Place Hours

Each county sets their own polling place hours. Contact your local elections commission to find out the times for your community.

Time Off To Vote

Employers must grant employees up to three hours paid leave to vote, unless polls are open three hours before or after regular working shift. Employees must request this time by noon the day before Election Day, and the employer may specify when during the working day employees may take time off.

Polling Place Locator

You can find your polling place by utilizing your state's tool.

If you have further questions on your polling place location, please contact your county clerk.

 

Provisional Voting

If you claim to be registered but are not on the list, you can receive a provisional ballot for later verification. Ballots are eligible for verification if votes are cast in the correct precinct. Tennessee does not provide a limited provisional ballot.

Voting Machines

The voting systems used in Tennessee are optical scan and DRE.

Optical Scan: With this system, you will receive a card or sheet of paper, which you take over to a private table or booth. The card has the names of the various candidates and ballot measures printed on it. With a pen or pencil you fill in a little box or circle or the space between two arrows. When you are finished filling out all the cards, you may bring the cards over to a ballot box, where poll workers will show you how to put the cards in the box. Or in some places, you may feed the completed cards or papers into a computer device that checks your card or paper right there at the polling place to make sure you have voted the way you want to and counts the votes.

Direct Recording Electronic (DRE): This is the newest kind of system in use in the U.S. All the information about who and what you are voting for is on an electronic screen like a TV or computer screen.

There are many variations of DREs because lots of companies are inventing new ones, and many cities, counties and states are trying them out. Usually, after you have signed in, the poll workers will give you a card that you slide into a device to start your voting session.

Some of these devices will show all of the candidates and ballot choices on one big screen. Often, with these big screen devices you push a button next to the name of the candidate you want to vote for (or yes or no on a ballot measure). On other DREs, the screen is set up to show pages. On each screen or page, there will probably be one thing to vote on. For example, on one screen or page, you might vote for president. Then you might move to the next page to vote for senator. Often these small-screen devices have a touch screen, where you touch the screen next to the name of the person you want to vote for. Other devices have a key pad. And some have a keyboard, so you can write in the name of someone you want to vote for.

You let the system know you are finished voting by pushing a button, touching the screen or entering something on a keypad.

You can learn more about voting systems by checking out the Elections Assistance Commission's (EAC) resource.

Candidate and Ballot Measure Information

Information on local, state and federal candidates and ballot measures may be available here.

To see a list of available races, visit the race index.

Provisions for Voters with Disabilities

Polling places are generally accessible and the voting machines comply with HAVA. If you have disabilities, you are allowed to bring someone to help you vote.You may also request assistance from poll workers. Such assistance will be provided by two poll workers, one from each party. For more information, you can utilize the American Association of People With Disabilities (AAPD) resource.

 

Campaign Finance Information

For information on federal campaign contributions, please visit Open Secrets.

For information on state campaign contributions, please visit your state's resource.


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Election Day Problems?

Call one of these hotlines:
1-866-OUR-VOTE (866-687-8683)
1-888-VE-Y-VOTA (en Español)
1-888-API-VOTE (Asian multilingual assistance)
1-844-418-1682 (Arabic)

 

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