Voting by mail is a great way to #votesafe during the pandemic.
What you need to know
How do I vote by mail?
First you have to request your ballot. You can do that here. Once you complete and sign the form, send it to your local election commission by mail, email or fax. Find your commission’s contact info at this link. If your request is accepted, you’ll get your ballot in the mail.
Am I eligible to vote absentee?
You can vote absentee in Tennessee if you fall into certain categories, including if you are:
- Someone with an underlying health condition making you especially vulnerable to COVID-19 – or you’re a caretaker of such a person (see more info on this below);
- Out of town during early voting and on Election Day;
- Over 60 years old;
- Hospitalized, ill, or have a disability – or you’re a caretaker of such a person;
- A juror on a federal or state court;
- A commercial driver (with credentials) who will be working outside of the county or state of registration;
- A voter in a licensed permanent care facility (e.g. a nursing home) outside your county;
- Observing a religious holiday;
- An election official (poll worker, judge, etc.); or
- A member of the military.
I’m not sure if I have a qualifying underlying condition.
If you’re wondering whether you – or someone you live with – have a qualifying underlying condition, it is up to you to make that decision. The state is trusting you to make the best call for your health. They’re not asking for a doctor’s note and the state has represented in court that they won’t prosecute you for checking that box. For guidance, the state is referring folks to the CDC’s list of underlying conditions. But again, if you decide you have a qualifying condition, you qualify to vote absentee.
Is absentee voting reliable?
The short answer: yes… if you get your ballot in on time! In the August primary, the most common reason for ballot rejections was late arrivals. This means that if you send in your ballot on time and fill it out correctly, it will be counted. But sooner is better than later! The good news: you can request your absentee ballot today. See if you’re eligible and then send in your request ASAP.
Can I track my ballot request and ballot?
Yes. Check this link. Once you have submitted the form, you should see when your request was processed, and once you have sent your ballot in, you should see when it was received.
You can check the status of your ballot at https://tnmap.tn.gov/voterlookup/. If you see from the website that 7 or more days have passed since your absentee ballot was sent, contact your local election commission.
Once you receive your ballot, follow the instructions closely and send it back. Use a black pen to complete your ballot. You must mail your ballot in time for your local election commission to receive it no later than the close of polls on Election Day. Some postal officials suggest mailing your ballot 7 days before Election Day to be safe, which would mean mailing your ballot by October 27 for the November 3 election. You must return your ballot by mail (USPS, FedEx, UPS, etc.) – it cannot be hand delivered to the election office. Don’t forget the stamp.