Shelby Co. Election Commission explains process of voting absentee in upcoming elections

Updated: Jun. 29, 2020 at 7:20 PM CDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - A Tennessee judge ruled in early June that everyone will be allowed to vote absentee due to COVID-19 concerns. It is likely that many will choose to vote by mail that have not done so before.

The administrator of the Shelby County Election Commission Linda Phillips says that, first, people have to fill out an absentee ballot request form.

There are two ways to get the form: voters can call the election commission at 901-222-6800 and get it mailed, or voters can download the form online here:

The form requires voters to select a reason for voting absentee and select the ballot they want to receive for the primary.

"Because this is the primary election, they need to specify if they want a party ballot - Republican or Democratic party. Or, if they don't want to declare a party, they'll get only the general ballot which only has the general sessions court clerk race on it, and a judicial retention race. In some areas there are county school board," Phillips explained.

Voters will then need to sign the request form.

Once voters fill out the form they must mail it to the election commission.

The deadline to send a request form is July 30. Phillips says not to wait too long to fill out the form.

“Because if you wait until July 30th, which is seven days prior to the election, it’s pretty unlikely that you’re going to get the ballot and you’re going to have time to mail it back to us.”

Ballots have to be mailed. Once a voter has decided to vote absentee, they cannot vote in person.

“Once you commit to vote absentee by mail that’s the only way you can vote,” said Phillips. “If you show up in person on election day, you’ll have to vote a provisional ballot. We have to check and make sure we didn’t get their absentee ballot by mail back. If we didn’t then we can count the provisional ballot.”

Voters must request to vote by mail for each election this year. So voters will have to request a ballot again if they wish to vote absentee for the November election.

First-time voters in Tennessee will not be allowed to vote by mail, they have to vote in person.

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