League of Women Voters

Tennessee Absentee Ballot Process

The deadline to request an absentee ballot for the November 6, 2018 General Election is Tuesday October 30, 2018.

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.


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