Shelby County expecting surge in newly registered voters, absentee ballots in November’s election

Voter registration deadline passes in the Mid-South

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - We are less than a month away from Election Day in the 2020 presidential election. Monday was the last day to register to vote in all three Mid-South states.

“It’s been a pretty sizeable increase. There’s been an increase of about 7,000 from September 1 to October 1,” Linda Phillips, Shelby County Administrator of Elections, said.

Voter registration deadline

Phillips said the full tally for this year won’t be known until the registration period closes Monday night, and the information can be entered into the county’s system.

The Tennessee Secretary of State’s office reports the total number of registered voters as of Sunday is a record, more than 4.3 million.

The number was nearly 4.17 million in June of 2020. It was nearly 4.18 million after the 2018 midterms and 4.12 million after the 2016 presidential election.

“There’s an extraordinary amount of interest in this election,” Michael Nelson, WMC Action News 5 Political Analyst, said.

Nelson said the current presidential cycle is polarizing, and there are few undecided voters between President Donald Trump and former Vice-President Joe Biden.

That’s why he said Republicans and Democrats are issuing rallying cries to vote.

“It’s just a matter of who can turn out supporters to the greatest degree, and I think that’s why we see interest so high on both sides. It’s not a matter of competing for those who haven’t made up their mind, as much as getting the people who are committed to support you already to show up at the polls either by mail or early or on Election Day,” Nelson said.

Rev. Earle Fisher leads Up the Vote 901, an effort to get more Memphians involved in the political process. He said increased registrations are critical, but those new voters must follow through with casting ballots.

“We want as many peoples' voices as possible to be heard in this process, so that’s why it’s important to have all hands on deck and for the long haul as well,” he said, “If you have low turnout in an election, it lessens the likelihood of you having fair and equitable representation in the halls of government.”

If you live in Tennessee, you can register to vote online until 11:59 p.m. on Monday night, provided that you have a record with the Tennessee Department of Safety.

Early voting in Shelby County starts on Oct. 14.

You can read information about voting early, in-person and absentee in the Mid-South by clicking this link.

The Shelby County Election Commission said Monday they expect to begin sending out absentee ballots this week. Phillips said the commission has received roughly 20,000 requests. Officials are planning for 100,000 absentee ballots in the county, but Phillips said she believes 40,000 to 50,000 is a more precise estimate.

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