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Election Administration in Tennessee

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Election Types and Dates

Election Dates

Upcoming Primary Elections

The presidential preference primary is March 1, 2016. The primary election for counties is May 3, 2016. The primary election for state and federal offices is August 4, 2016.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tennessee 2016 Election Calendar [link]

Upcoming General Elections

The general election for counties is August 4, 2016. The general election for other offics is November 8, 2016.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tennessee 2016 Election Calendar [link]

How is a nominee determined?

How is a nominee determined (caucus, primary, convention)?

For the President, members of Congress, the Governor, and members of the state general assembly, statewide political party nominees are selected through primary elections. For other partisan offices, statewide political parties may choose to select their nominees through primary elections or another means, such as conventions. Minor political parties may select their nominees through primary elections or another means, such as conventions.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-13-205 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-13-203 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-13-202 [link]

Political Party Affiliation

Can voters register by party in the state?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tennessee Voter Registration Application [link]

Must voters be registered with a political party if they would like to vote on that party’s candidates in a partisan primary election (i.e., are primaries open or closed)?

To vote in a party primary, voters must be a member of that party or, at the time that they vote, declare their allegiance and intent to affiliate with that party.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-115 [link]

Voter Registration

Who Can Vote?

What are the state's residency requirements for voters?

To register to vote, a person must be resident of Tennessee. A person may be a resident of a place regardless of its nature; for example, it can be a house or apartment, a mobile home or public institution, owned or rented, and so forth. However, a commercial address may not be used for residential purposes, unless the applicant provides evidence that the person uses the commercial address as their home.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-2-102 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-2-122 [link]

Can someone pre-register to vote if they will not be 18 years old by the next election? If so, who?

No. A person may only register to vote if they will be 18 by the next election.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-2-104 [link]

Can 17-year-olds who will be 18-year-olds by the general election vote in the primary?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-2-104 [link]

Does the state take away the right to vote from persons convicted of certain crimes? If so, what crimes?

Yes; voters convicted of a felony lose the right to vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 40-20-112 [link]

If people lose the right to vote because of a criminal conviction, can they regain the right to vote? How?

Most voters in Tennesse do not regain the right to vote once their sentence is complete. The following rules apply.

Convictions after 1981

People convicted after 1981 they can regain their right to vote only by (1) obtaining a ""Certificate of Restoration of Voting Rights"" form - either click here to download one, or request one from the county election commission; (2) having this form signed by their probation/parole officer or other incarcerating or pardoning authority to certify that all probation and parole requirements have been met; (3) have the Certificate signed by the Circuit or Criminal Court Clerk's office certifying that all court-ordered restitution has been paid, (4) submit the Certificate to the county election commission, and (5) after the county election commission verifies the person is current in any court-ordered child support payments, the commission will send the voter a letter telling them that their right to vote is restored, and that they must register to vote.

However, the following people convicted after 1981 cannot have their voting rights restored unless they are pardoned by the Governor of Tennesse for a conviction in a Tennessee state court; the President, if convicted of a federal crime; or they were convicted in another state's court and their right to vote was restored in that state:

  • Between July 1, 1986, and June 30, 1996, any person convicted of first degree murder, aggravated rape, treason, or voter fraud.
  • Between July 1, 1996, and June 30, 2006, any person convicted of murder, rape, treason, or voter fraud.
  • Any of the above, or any degree of murder or rape or any felony offense under TCA Title 39, Chapter 16, parts 1, 4, or 5; or any sexual offense under TCA § 40-39-202(20) or any violent sexual offense under TCA § 40-39-202(30) designated as a felony and where the victim of such offense was a minor.

Convictions Between January 15, 1973 and May 17, 1981

Such persons may register to vote upon release from prison; no special procedures apply.

Convictions Before January 15, 1973

Most persons may register to vote upon release from prison. However, people who were convicted of one of the following crimes must go through special procedures to regain the right to vote:

  • Abusing a female child;
  • Arson and felonious burning;
  • Bigamy;
  • Bribery;
  • Burglary; felonious breaking and entering a dwelling house; felonious breaking into a business house, outhouse other than a dwelling house; larceny; horse stealing; robbery; receiving stolen property; stealing bills of exchange or other valuable papers; counterfeiting; forgery;
  • Destroying a will;
  • Incest; rape; sodomy; buggery; or
  • Perjury; subornation of perjury.

To regain the right to vote, such a person must either (1) prove that, at the time of conviction, the judge did not render person infamoun; (2) have their conviction reversed on appeal; (3) receive a full pardon; or (4) the circuit court, in either the county where person lives or in the county where person was convicted, issues judgment that restores full rights of citizenship upon the person. (A person may petition the circuit court for restoration at the expiration of the maximum sentence imposed for the infamous crime conviction.) The person must submit proof of one of these conditions to the county electio commission, and upon verifying the proof, the county election commission will allow the person to register to vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 40-20-112 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-19-143 [link]

The Right to Vote and Ex-Felon Disenfranchisement in Tennessee [link]

Tenn. Sec. of State, If I Have a Felony Conviction, Can I Vote? [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-2-139 [link]

Certificate of Restoration of Voting Rights [link]

Voter Registration Options

Is fully online voter registration available? (i.e., can voters fill in and submit an online application without printing and signing it?)

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Sec. of State, Register to Vote [link]

Does the state accept the National Mail Registration Form?

Yes. Click here to download the form.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

National Mail Voter Registration Form [link]

Is the state required to register voters at public assistance agencies and driver's license agencies, per the National Voter Registration Act of 1993?

Yes.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

U.S. Department of Justice website [link]

Student-Specific Rules

Does the state have specific rules on students registering to vote or voting?

If a Tennessee student intends to eventually return to where they lived before attending school once they graduate, such as their parent's house, then they may register to vote at that address. Otherwise, a student may register at the address where they live while attending school.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-2-122 [link]

Voter Registration Deadlines

When is the voter registration deadline?

30 days before Election Day (or the next business day, if the 30th day falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.)

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-2-109 [link]

How is the deadline enforced for mailed applications?

Postmark - the voter registration application must be postmarked by the voter registration deadline.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-2-109 [link]

Voter Registration Drives

Does the state require organizations conducting voter registration drives to register?

No.

Are there restrictions on getting voter registration forms?

No. State voter registration forms must be available in ample quantities for distribution to qualified groups and organizations demonstrating an interest in participating in voter registration work.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 1360-02-11-.06 [link]

Does the state require any training in order to conduct voter registration drives?

No.

Does the state have restrictions on who may help others register to vote?

No; however, Tennessee regulations say that county election commissions may not accept application forms that are delivered to them in any manner other than through the postal service. Election commissions will receive them through delivery by the postal department in single application cards or by packages containing more than one application. Nevertheless, at least one county’s drive guide indicates that applications can be hand delivered or mailed. Organizations should confirm submission procedures with local election officials.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs.1360-02-11-.06(2) [link]

Montgomery Co. Elec. Comm’n, Guide for Voter Registration Drive, pp. 3, 7 [link]

Does the state have restrictions on paying drive workers, or additional rules related to payment?

Tennessee law does not address this issue.

Are there restrictions on the voter registration drive offering something of value to a person in exchange for completing a voter registration application?

Federal law states that whoever ""pays or offers to pay or accepts payment either for registration to vote or for voting shall be fined not more than $10,000 or imprisoned not more than five years."" At least one federal appellate court has interpreted ""payment"" as ""intended to include forms of pecuniary value offered or given directly to an individual voter, and indicated the value should be based on ""an assessment of the monetary worth of an item from the perspective of the voter receiving the item."" That case held that food vouchers could be ""payment.""

Another example is California's Secretary of State's interpretation of the federal law to mean that ""Any type of incentive is considered 'payment,' even things as seemingly innocent as cookies or admission to an entertainment event.""

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

52 U.S.C. § 10307(c) [link]

California Secretary of State's Guide to Voter Registration Drives, p. 11 [link]

United States v. Garcia, 719 F.2d 99, 102-103 (5th Cir. 1983) [link]

Must the registration drive worker sign the completed voter registration application, and must the drive or canvasser place other information on applications?

No; however, if a registrant's disability prevents them from writing a signature or making a mark, the person who assists the registrant must write the name for the registrant. Such person must indicate this action by signing their name immediately after the space for the registrant's signature or mark.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-2-119 [link]

Does the state have a rule requiring a receipt or other tracking information to be provided to the applicant?

No.

Are there restrictions on copying completed voter registration applications prior to submitting them to the election official, or other restrictions on data entry or disclosure?

Tennessee law does not address this issue.

Is there a time limit for voter registration groups to submit the voter registration applications they collect?

No; however, groups must have applications postmarked no later than the 30th day before an election for the applicants to vote in that election. When the 30th day before an election falls on a Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday, applications for registration must be accepted and processed the next business day following such Saturday, Sunday, or legal holiday.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-2-109(b) [link]

What are the consequences for failing to submit applications on time?

Tennessee law does not directly address that issue. However, a person commits a Class C misdemeanor if such person knowingly does any act prohibited by the election laws (Title 2), or if such person knowingly fails to do any act which such person is required to do by this title, or if such person knowingly does any act with the intent that another shall do an act prohibited by the election laws. In addition, a person who knowingly does any act for the purpose of preventing exercise of such person's rights under the election laws (Title 2) commits a Class A misdemeanor.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-19-103 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-19-102 [link]

Same-Day Registration

Can voters register and vote on the same day (i.e., does the state offer same-day registration)?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-2-109 [link]

Voters Who Have Moved or Changed Their Name

Can people vote if they moved, but did not update their voter registration with their new address?

Yes, but different rules apply depending on the circumstances:

  • If a registered voter moved to a new address within the same precinct, they may update their address during early voting, when requesting an absentee ballot, or at the polling place on Election Day.
  • If a registered voter moved to a new address within the same county but a different precinct, the voter can update their address during early voting, when requesting an absentee ballot, at the polling place assigned to their new address on Election Day, or at a central voting location on Election Day. The voter cannot vote at their old polling place.
  • If a voter has moved to a new address within a new county within 90 days before Election Day, the voter may cast their ballot at their old polling place on Election Day. If the voter wishes to vote at their new polling place, or the voter moved more than 90 days before the election, then the voter must have updated their voter registration record before the voter registration deadline.
Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-140 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-7-115 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-2-129 [link]

Can people vote if they have changed their name, but did not update their voter registration with their new name?

If a voter changed their name within 90 days before Election Day, they may update their voter registration information with their new name at the polls.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-140 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-7-115 [link]

Language, Literacy, and Disability Access

Language and Literacy Access

Does the state have any places that must provide election materials in languages other than English, per Section 203 of the Voting Rights Act of 1965?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Voting Rights Act Amendments of 2006, Determinations Under Section 203, 76 Fed. Reg. 63602 (Oct. 13, 2011) [link]

Does the state have any other rules about providing election materials in languages other than English?

No.

Who can help a voter with reading assistance or translation if they can't vote on their own?

Under Section 208 of the federal Voting Rights Act, any voter who requires assistance to vote due to inability to read or write may be given assistance by a person of the voter's choice, other than the voter's employer, an agent of that employer, or an officer or agent of the voter's union.

Under state law, voters needing literacy assistance or translation may receive assistance voting from any person they choose or from two election judges who are affiliated with different political parties.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

52 U.S.C. § 10508 (federal law) [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-7-116 [link]

Disability Access

Who can help a voter with a disability if they can't vote on their own?

Under Section 208 of the federal Voting Rights Act, any voter who requires assistance to due to blindness or disability may be given assistance by a person of the voter's choice, other than the voter's employer, an agent of that employer, or an officer or agent of the voter's union.

Under state law, voters needing assistance due to a disability may receive assistance voting from any person they choose or from two election judges who are affiliated with different political parties.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

52 U.S.C. § 10508 (federal law) [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-7-116 [link]

Does the state have other rules related to access for persons with disabilities?

Any person who has a physical disability, or who is ""visibly pregnant or frail,"" may request permission from the officer of elections at the polling place to be moved to the front of the line of people who are waiting to vote.

A person who is adjudicated mentally incompetent by a court may lose the right vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 33-3-102 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-7-116(c) [link]

Early Voting, Absentee Voting, and Other Ways to Vote

Vote-by-Mail

Does the state provide mail ballots to all voters without a request?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

http://www.tn.gov/sos/election/bymail.htm [link]

Early Voting/Absentee In-Person Voting

Does the state have early voting/absentee in-person voting?

Yes.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-6-102 [link]

Where does early voting/absentee in-person voting take place?

At the county election commission office, at any satellite early voting locations the county election commission may choose to establish, and at any satellite early voting location established in a municipality.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-6-112 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-6-102 [link]

When does early voting/absentee in-person voting take place?

It starting the 20th day before Election Day and ending the 5th day before Election Day, except that the county election commission can choose to end early voting the 7th day before Election Day for presidential primary elections only.

During the early voting period, each early voting location must be open at least 3 consecutive hours each weekday and Saturday between the hours of 8:00 a.m. 6:00 p.m. For a municipality with a population of less than 5,000 (according to the 1990 census or any later census), the municipal governing body may determine the Saturday schedule of early voting for municipal elections.

Additionally, in counties with a population greater than 150,000 (according to the 1970 census only), on at least 3 days during the early voting period for state and federal elections, the county election commission office must remain open for early voting between 4:30 p.m. and 7:00 p.m., and on at least one Saturday from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. The same rule applies to municipalities within such counties. The county election commission may determine the appropriate dates for both late and regular hours at the commission office. For municipal elections, the county election commision and municipal governing board jointly decide the dates for additional hours.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-6-103 [link]

What official chooses early voting/absentee in-person voting locations?

The county election commission office must offer early voting. The county election commission may also choose to establish satellite early voting locations. If a municipality requests, the county election commission must establish a satellite early voting location within the municipality.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-6-112 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-6-102 [link]

Are lists of early voters/absentee in-person voters published? How?

Yes. Every day during the early voting period, each county election commission must prepare a list of people who voted early or whose absentee ballot was received by mail on the previous day. These lists are open to inspection by any Tennesee citizen, they are sent to each newspaper of general circulation, and they are available to any other publication upon request. Candidates on the ballot may also request that a copy of the list be mailed to them daily, and the county may charge a candidate a fee equal to the cost of producing the list.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. R. 1360-02-16-.03 [link]

Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. R. 1360-02-16-.04 [link]

Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. R. 1360-02-16-.05 [link]

Absentee Voting by Mail

Can anyone vote absentee by mail without an excuse? If not, what excuses allow a voter to vote absentee by mail?

No; a voter may vote an absentee ballot only for one of the following reasons:

  • The voter will be outside their home county during the early voting period and Election Day during all hours the polls are open, except for voters who are imprisoned
  • The voter or the voter's spouse is enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited college or university outside the county
  • The voter has filed a statement from a licensed physician stating that, in the physician's judgment, the voter is medically unable to vote in person. The application and statement must be filed no less than 7 days before the election and signed under the penalty of perjury. Such persons will become permanent absentee voters, and will automatically be sent an absentee ballot in every future election.
  • The voter lives full time in a licensed nursing home or facility providing relatively permanent domiciliary care, other than a penal institution, outside the county
  • The voter will be unable to vote in person during early voting or on Election Day because the voter must serve as a juror for a federal or state court
  • The voter is 60 years old or older
  • The voter has a physical disability and an inaccessible polling place
  • The voter is hospitalized, ill, or has a physical disability, and because of such condition, cannot vote in person on Election Day
  • The voter is a caretaker of a person who is hospitalized, ill, or has a disability
  • The voter is a candidate for office in the election
  • The voter serves as an election official or as a member or employee of the election commission
  • The voter's observance of a religious holiday prevents them from voting in person during the early voting period or on election day, or
  • The voter, or their spouse, has a valid commercial driver license or valid transportation worker identification credintial, and the voter certifies that they will be working outside the state or county during the early voting period and all day on election day. The voter must include a copy of their license or credential with their absentee ballot application and indicate both their current home address and the mailing address where the absentee ballot should be mailed to.
Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-6-201 [link]

Deadline to apply for absentee ballot by mail

The voter must apply for an absentee ballot no earlier than 90 days before Election Day and no later than 7 days before Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-6-202 [link]

How does a voter apply for an absentee mail ballot?

The voter should fill out and submit an absentee ballot application, which is available to download here, or an application can be sent to a voter if the voter requests one from the county election commission by mail, fax (if the office has a fax machine), or e-mail. Alternatively, the voter may submit an informal application for an absentee ballot that includes the following information:

  • Name of the registered voter
  • The voter's date of birth
  • Voter's address
  • Voter's social security number
  • The election the voter wishes to participate in.
  • If the election involves a primary, the political party in which the voter wishes to participate
  • The reason the voter is allowed to vote absentee
  • If applicable, the address to mail the ballot outside the county
  • If applicable, a copy of the voter's commercial driver's license or a transportation worker identification credential.
  • If applicable, a statement from a licensed physician stating that, in the physician's judgment, the voter is medically unable to vote in person. Such persons will automatically be sent absentee ballots in future elections. (The voter can also submit the statement separetely, so long as it is received 7 days before Election Day.)
  • The voter's signature

An application ballot may be submitted to the county election commission in person or by mail, fax (if the office has a fax machine), or e-mail.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-6-202 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-6-201 [link]

Can a voter make an online request for an absentee mail ballot?

The voter may submit their application by e-mailing it to their county election commission.

Source (confirmed on: 2014-07-09)

Tenn. Code § 2-6-202 [link]

Does a voter need to submit any supporting documentation or verification with an absentee mail ballot or absentee mail ballot application? If so, what is required?

If the voter is requesting an absentee ballot because they or a spouse has a commercial driver's license or transportation worker identification credential and will be working outside of the county during early voting and on Election Day, the voter must include with their absentee ballot application a copy of the commercial driver's license or a transportation worker identification credential.

If the voter is voting due to being medically unable to voter in person, a statement from a licensed physician stating that, in the physician's judgment, the voter is medically unable to vote in person. Such persons will automatically be sent absentee ballots in future elections. (The voter can also submit the statement separetely, so long as it is received 7 days before Election Day.)

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-6-202 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-6-201 [link]

Are there restrictions on who may request or turn in an absentee mail ballot application for a voter?

No person except for an election official may give an absentee ballot application to any person. Additionally, Tennessee law does not say that a voter can designate another person to submit their absentee ballot application for them. If a person is hospitalized within their home county 20 or fewer days before Election Day, the county election commission can designate a person as an emergency registrar to give the voter an absentee ballot application and collect it once the voter has filled it out, and then give the voter an absentee ballot and collect it once the voter has marked it.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-6-202 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-6-401 [link]

Deadline to return absentee ballots

Absentee ballots must be mailed to the county election commission, and they must received by the commission before the polls close on Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-6-304 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-6-303 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-6-202 [link]

Are there restrictions on who may return a voter's absentee mail ballot for them?

Yes. All absentee ballots must be mailed to the county election commission by the voter personally.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-6-202 [link]

First-time voters

If a person registered to vote by mail, they cannot vote by absentee ballot in their first election. This rule does not apply to voters who have a physician's statement that they cannot vote in person due to a medical condition and thus have been added to the list of permanent absentee voters.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-2-115(7) [link]

Are there any special emergency rules that allow a voter to vote absentee by mail if they are unable to make it to the polls at the last minute?

Yes. If a vhe voter is unable to vote in person on Election Day because they have been hospitalized in their home county 20 or fewer days before Election Day, then the voter can contact their county election commission and request an emergency absentee ballot. The county election commission will then designate an emergency registrar who will deliver the voter an absentee ballot application and an absentee ballot and then return the application and ballot to the county election commission once the voter marks them.

Additionally, the voter may cast an emergency absentee ballot in person at the county election commission's office if, between 5 days and 1 day before Election Day, the voter shows proof of either of the following to the commission:

  • There is a death in the voter's family that causes the voter to have leave the state or county on Election Day; or
  • The voter has received a subpoena or service of process that requires the voter's presence on Election Day.

Emergency absentee ballots must be witnessed by another registered voter in the county.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-6-401 [link]

Are lists of people who vote absentee by mail published? How?

Yes. Every day during the early voting period, each county election commission must prepare a list of people who voted early or whose absentee ballot was received by mail on the previous day. These lists are open to inspection by any Tennesee citizen, they are sent to each newspaper of general circulation, and they are available to any other publication upon request. Candidates on the ballot may also request that a copy of the list be mailed to them daily, and the county may charge a candidate a fee equal to the cost of producing the list.

Additionally, the county election commission must give each polling place a complete alphabetical list of its absentee voters for each election, and the copy mustbe displayed at the polling place on Election Day. Absentee ballot applications are also public records.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. R. 1360-02-16-.03 [link]

Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. R. 1360-02-16-.04 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-6-301 [link]

Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. R. 1360-02-16-.05 [link]

Presidential-only ballots

Under federal law, any registered voter who moves out of the state after the 30th day before a Presidential election may vote for President and Vice President either in person at the voter’s previous state of residence or using an absentee ballot from the voter’s previous state of residence.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

52 U.S.C. § 10502(e) [link]

Absentee Voting for Military and Overseas Voters

Who is eligible for military/overseas absentee voting?

The following voters are eligible for military/overseas voting:

  • Tennessee residents who are members of the armed forces and outside of their home county, and their spouses and dependents. ""Armed forces"" includes Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard, Environmental Science Service Administration, Public Health Service of the United States, and the Merchant Marine.
  • Tennessee residents who are temporarily staying outside of the territorial limits of the United States and D.C.
  • U.S. citizens living overseas who would be eligible to vote in Tennessee if they lived in Tennessee
  • Persons who have never lived in the U.S. but who have a parent who is eligible to vote in Tennessee
Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Sec. of State, Military and Overseas Voters [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-6-502 [link]

How do voters apply for a military/overseas ballot?

In order to apply for an absentee ballot, a military or overseas voter may use the Federal Postcard Application (FPCA), the domestic absentee ballot application, or any form that contains the voter's name, social security number, date of birth, residence address in the Tennessee county the voter is applying to vote in, and the address the ballot should be mailed to. In a primary election, the voter should also include the party in whose primary election the voter wishes to vote.

The application may be mailed, faxed (if their county election commission has a fax machine), or e-mailed (with an attached document that includes a scanned signature) to the local county election commission.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-6-202 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-6-502 [link]

Deadline to apply for a military/overseas ballot

Applications must be received by the county election official 7 days before Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-6-502(c) [link]

Deadline to return the military/overseas ballot

The ballot must be received before the polls close on Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-6-304 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-6-303 [link]

Who is eligible to use a write-in absentee ballot? How does it work?

Any voter must use a Federal Write-in Absentee Ballot to vote for any candidate or measure that the voter is eligible to vote for.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-6-502(c) [link]

On Election Day

Where do you vote in person?

Where do you vote in person?

At the polling place in the voter's precint. Some municipalities may, with approval by the county and the state, be allowed to participate in a pilot project where voters may alternatively cast their ballot at a central voting center; voters should contact their county election commission to learn whether their municipality is participating.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-3-301 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-3-101 [link]

What hours are the polls open on Election Day?

What hours are the polls open on Election Day?

Polling places must be open between 8 and 13 hours on Election Day, and different rules apply depending on the county's population and where the county is located.

Polling Place Opening Times

Voters should contact their county election commission to determine when the polling places in their county open.

Polling places must open exactly at 8:00 a.m. in counties that have a population size that falls between one the following amounts, according to the 1970 census or a later census:

  • 63,700 to 63,800
  • 28,200 to 28,300
  • 24,200 to 24,300
  • 23,475 to 23,500

In counties with a population size of at least 120,000 according to the 1970 census or a later census, polling places must open at 8:00 a.m. or at an earlier time determined by the county election commission, so long as the total time the polls are open is between 8 and 13 hours long.

Other counties may choose when to open their polling places, so long as the total time the polls are open is between 8 and 13 hours long.

Polling Place Closing Times

For counties in the eastern time zone, polling places must close at 8:00 p.m. For counties in the central time zone, polling places must close at 7:00 p.m.

Unopposed Municipal Elections

For municipal elections in a municipality having a population size no greater than 5000 according to the 1980 census or any later census, and no candidate on the ballot for office is opposed, polling places must be open between 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-3-301 [link]

In the Voting Booth

Can a voter bring children into the voting booth with them?

Children under 17 years old may accompany their parents or guardians to the polling place and in the voting booth.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-103 [link]

Are employers required to give employees time off to vote?

Are employers required to give employees time off to vote?

Yes. If an employee does not have three consecutive hours off of work while the polls are open, the employee may leave work to vote on Election Day for up to 3 hours. An employer may not penalize an employee or reduce their pay if they leave work to vote. An employee must apply to their employer for this time off by noon the day before Election Day, and the employer may specify the hours during which the employee may leave work to vote.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-1-106 [link]

Campaigning, Electioneering, and Recording Devices

Are there restrictions on campaigning/electioneering during early voting/absentee in-person voting?

Campaigning is prohibited at an early voting location and within at least 100 feet of the entrance to one. Additionally, except in counties that have a population size between 825,000 and 830,000 according to the 1990 census or a later census, solitication or collection for any cause is prohibited within this area.

Except for counties with a metropolitan form of government, any county having a population size over 6000 according to the 1970 census or a later census, and any county having a population size between 250,000 and 260,000 according to he 1970 census only, may choose to extend the 100-foot area.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-1-104(17) [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-7-111 [link]

Are there restrictions on campaigning/electioneering on Election Day?

Campaigning is prohibited at an early voting location and within at least 100 feet of the entrance to one. Additionally, except in counties that have a population size between 825,000 and 830,000 according to the 1990 census or a later census, solitication or collection for any cause is prohibited within this area.

Except for counties with a metropolitan form of government, any county having a population size over 6000 according to the 1970 census or a later census, and any county having a population size between 250,000 and 260,000 according to he 1970 census only, may choose to extend the 100-foot area.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-111 [link]

Can a voter wear a button or t-shirt with a candidate's name or logo on it into the polling place when they vote?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-111 [link]

*NEW 1** Can a voter use a digital or recording device (such as a cell phone or camera) inside the polling place or voting booth?

Yes, but a digital device must be used only for informational purposes to assist the voter in making election decisions. The device may not be used for telephone conversations, recording, or taking photographs or videos while inside the polling place.

Source (confirmed on: 10/26/2016)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-142 [link]

*NEW 2** Can a voter use a digital or recording device (such as a cell phone or camera) outside the polling place but within the zone around the polling place where campaigning/electioneering is banned?

State law does not separately address this issue (see previous question).

Source (confirmed on: 10/17/2016)

Tenn. Code § 2-19-103 [link]

Who's at the Polls?

Can persons other than election workers observe inside the polls?

Yes.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-104 [link]

What are observers inside the polls called in the state?

Poll watchers.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-104 [link]

Does the state establish requirements to observe inside the polls?

Each candidate may appoint one or more poll watchers for each polling place; however, such candidate may have only one poll watcher serve at a polling place at a time. Additionally, each political party which has candidates in the election, and each citizens' organization interested in a ballot measure or in protecting election integrity, may have two watchers at each polling place. One of the watchers representing a party may be appointed by the chair of the county executive committee of the party and the other by a majority of the candidates of that party running exclusively within the county in which the watchers are appointed. If the candidates of a party fail to appoint the watchers by 12:00 noon on the third day before the election, the chair of the county executive committee of the party may appoint both watchers representing the chair's party.

All appointments of watchers must be in writing and signed by the persons or organizations authorized to make the appointment. The written appointments must be submitted to the county election commission by 12:00 p.m. on the second working day before Election Day. The county election commission may require organizations to produce evidence that they are allowed to appoint watchers.

Poll watchers must be at least 17 years old and cannot be married to a candidate on the ballot.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-104 [link]

*NEW 3* Can a poll observer use a digital or recording device (such as a cell phone or camera) in the polling place?

State law does not address this issue. Local practices may vary.

Source (confirmed on: 10/15/2016)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-104 [link]

Are there other rules on what poll observers can or cannot do?

Watchers must wear poll watcher badges with their names and their organization's name.

Poll watchers may:

  • Be present during all proceedings at the polling place
  • Watch and inspect the performance in and around the polling place of all election duties.
  • Through the election judges, challenge any person who offers to vote in the election.
  • Inspect all ballots while being called and counted and all tally sheets and poll lists during preparation and certification.
  • Protest any aspect of the conduct of the election by addressing the protest to the officer of elections, the county election commission, or inspector. The officer of elections or county election commission must rule promptly on the protest and take any necessary corrective action.

Poll watchers may not:

  • Interfere with any voter in the preparation or casting of such voter's ballot * Prevent election officials from performing their duties.
  • Observe the giving of assistance in voting to a voter who has a right to assistance.
  • Wear campaign material advocating voting for candidates or positions on questions.
Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-104 [link]

Provisional Voting and Voters at the Wrong Polling Place

When should a voter be offered a provisional ballot?

Under Section 203 of the federal Help America Vote Act of 2002, if a person claims to be a registered voter in the jurisdiction in which the person desires to vote and the person claims to be eligible to vote in a federal election, but the person’s name does not appear on the official list of eligible voters for the polling place or an election official asserts that the person is not eligible to vote, then that person must be permitted to cast a provisional ballot at that polling place. The person may cast the provisional ballot after executing, before an election official at the polling place, a written affirmation stating that the person is (1) a registered voter in the jurisdiction, and (2) eligible to vote in that election.

Additionally, any person who votes in a federal election as a result of a federal or state court order, or any other order extending the time established for closing the polls by a state law in effect 10 days before the date of that election, may only vote in that election by casting a provisional ballot. Any such ballot cast must be separated and held apart from other provisional ballots cast for different reasons.

Under state law, a voter should be offered a provisional ballot if:

  • The voter's eligiblity to vote in the precinct cannot be determined by the computer signature list or by the permanent registration records on file with the county election commission
  • An election official asserts that the voter is not eligible to vote
  • The voter does not show the required ID when voting, unless the voter is indigent or has a religious objection to being photographed
Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

52 U.S.C. § 21082 (federal law) [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-7-112(a)(3)(A) [link]

If a voter casts a provisional ballot at the wrong precinct, will the ballot be counted?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-112(a)(3)(B)(v) [link]

Following up on a provisional ballot

A voter who cast a provisional ballot because they did not show ID when voting must, within 2 days after Election Day, show ID to the administrator of elections, or their designee, at the county election commission's office or another location designated by the county elections commission.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-112(e) [link]

Finding out if a provisional ballot was counted

The administrator of elections must notify voters by mail if their provisional ballot was not counted and the reason it was not counted.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-112 [link]

Ballot Shortages/Voting Machine Malfunctions

What is the law or procedure on emergency ballots if a polling place runs out of printed ballots? Are handwritten/photocopied ballots allowed?

If there are not enough ballots at a polling place for any reason, the county election commission must deliver ballots to the polling place and print new ballots if necessary. The law does not allow polling place officials to photocopy ballots or accept handwritten ballots.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-108 [link]

What is the law or procedure on emergency ballots if a voting machine breaks or malfunctions?

If voting machines fail and cannot be replaced or repaired, paper ballots must be used. If necessary, the county election commission will deliver paper ballots to the polling place.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-119 [link]

Voter ID and Challenges

Voter ID

Who must show ID to vote?

Nearly all voters are be required to show ID when casting a ballot in person during early voting or on Election Day.

Only the following voters do not have to show ID when voting:

  • Voters casting an absentee ballot by mail;
  • Voters who are indigent
  • Voters who have a religious objection to being photographed
  • Voters casting an emergency absentee ballot
  • Voters who live in a licensed nursing home or assisted living center and vote at that facility
Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-112(a), (e) [link]

Are there any special requirements for first-time voters?

No. If a person registered to vote by mail, they cannot vote by absentee ballot in their first election; they must vote in person and satisfy the ID requirement. This rule does not apply to voters who have a physician's statement that they cannot vote in person due to a medical condition and thus have been added to the list of permanent absentee voters.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-2-115(7) [link]

What ID is acceptable?

The following forms of valid photo ID are acceptable:

  • Tennessee driver's license
  • A Tennessee photo identification license
  • An employee ID issued by the Tennessee government or federal government, so long as it has a photo the voter
  • Any other photo ID issued by the Tennessee government, except for a student ID
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. military ID with a photo
  • Any other federal ID issued by the federal government

Additionally, if the election official cannot determine that the voter's name should have been placed on the precinct's computer signature list, then the voter must complete an original voter registration application and show a document that has their current address. The document can, but does not have to be, a photo ID. The voter will then be given a provisional ballot.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-112(c), (a)(3), (d) [link]

Is a student ID an acceptable form of identification?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-112(c)(2)(B) [link]

Does the address on the ID have to match the address at which the voter is registered?

No. However, if the election official cannot determine that the voter's name should have been placed on the precinct's computer signature list, the voter must complete an original voter registration application and show a document that has their current address. The document can, but does not have to be, a photo ID. The voter will then be given a provisional ballot.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-112(a)(3), (d) [link]

If a voter has no ID, are there alternatives such as an oath or witness?

A voter without ID can vote a provisional ballot. However, the voter must go to the county election commission office, or another location designated by the commission, and show the required ID within 2 business days after the election.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-112 [link]

Do elections without federal offices on the ballot (such as off-year gubernatorial elections) have different ID requirements?

No.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-112 [link]

Challenges to Voters at the Polling Place

Who can challenge a voter at the polling place?

Any other person who is at the polling place.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-123 [link]

What are the allowed reasons on which a voter can be challenged at the polling place?

A voter's right to vote may only be challenged at the polling place on one of the following grounds:

  • The voter is not a registered voter in Tennessee and did not vote a provisional ballot
  • The voter does not live in the precinct where they seek to vote
  • The voter is not the person who they claim to be
  • The voter has already voted in the election
  • The voter has become ineligible to vote in the election being conducted at the polling place since the person registered.

In a primary election, voters may also be challenged on the basis of party affiliation.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-124 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-7-126 [link]

Is there a requirement for the challenger to provide cause or evidence?

No. However, the election judges may ask any question that can help them deciding the challenge, and may put under oath and ask questions of any person who may have information relevant to the challenge.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-124 [link]

How does a voter defend their eligibility to vote if they are challenged?

After a challenge is made, the election judges will administer an oath to the challenged voter and ask them questions to determine whether they are qualified. If the election judges unanimously agree that the voter is not qualified, the challenge succeeds and voter's ballot will be rejected. If even one poll worker believes the voter is qualified, the challenge fails and voter may vote a regular ballot.

Challenges on the basis of party affiliation in a primary election have a slightly different procedure; instead of being decided by all election judges, they are decided 3 decided by election judges or other election officials at the polling place who are affiliated with the party whose primary the voter wishes to vote in. The decision to sustain the challenge must be unanimous, or the voter will be allowed to vote a regular ballot.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-126 [link]

Tenn. Code § 2-7-125 [link]

What are the restrictions on polling place challenges?

Challenges are permitted at the polling place on Election Day.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-7-123 [link]

State and Local Election Officials

The State Election Authority

Who/what is the state election authority?

The Secretary of State

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-11-201 [link]

Current official

Tre Hargett

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Secretary of State Bio [link]

E-mail

tennessee.elections@tn.gov

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Sec. of State, Division of Elections [link]

Phone

615-741-7956

1-877-850-4959

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Sec. of State, Division of Elections [link]

Address

312 Rosa L. Parks Avenue
Snodgrass Tower, 7th Floor
Nashville, TN 37243

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Sec. of State, Division of Elections [link]

Local Election Authorities

What local election official(s) are in charge of major state-level elections (such as the even-year November general elections)?

County Election Commission, each of which appoints a county administrator of elections

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-12-116 [link]

What is the county-level election official?

County Election Commission, each of which appoints a county administrator of elections

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-12-116 [link]

What is the municipal-level election official?

County Election Commission

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-12-116 [link]

Contact information for local election authorities

Click here.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tennessee County Election Commissions [link]

The Voter File

Voter File Basics

National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) Disclosure Law

Section 8 of the federal NVRA requires that each State maintain for at least 2 years and make available for public inspection and, where available, photocopying at a reasonable cost, all records concerning the implementation of programs and activities conducted for the purpose of ensuring the accuracy and currency of official lists of eligible voters, except to the extent that such records contain information about a person declining to register to vote or information about the identity of a voter registration agency through which a particular voter might have chosen to register.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

52 U.S.C. § 20507 [link]

Acquiring a Voter File

Under state procedure, who may acquire a voter file?

Any citizen of Tennessee.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-2-127 [link]

Tenn. Code § 10-7-503(a)(2)(A) [link]

Tenn. Code § 10-7-506(a) [link]

Who is the state-level contact for acquiring a voter file?

Secretary of State

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Tenn. Code § 2-11-201 [link]

How much does the state charge for the file?

2500

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Interview with Secretary of State's office [link]

What format is the file available in?

The file is available as a text file. It is normally available on a CD, but also can be delivered via FTP upload.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Interview with Secretary of State's office [link]

Use of the Voter File

Does the state have restrictions on commercial use of the voter file?

Yes, information from the file can be used for political purposes only.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Interview with Secretary of State's office [link]

Does the state have restrictions on non-commercial use of the voter file?

Yes, information from the file can be used for political purposes only.

Source (confirmed on: 2016-08-05)

Interview with Secretary of State's office [link]