MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - The last day to request an absentee ballot is Tuesday, October 27 in Tennessee if you want to vote by mail ahead of the November 2020 presidential election.
The window is closing to ask for an absentee ballot from the Shelby County Election Commission. Tennessee law requires a voter to submit a written request to vote absentee.
“Don’t delay. Do it today,” said Suzanne Thompson, spokesperson for the Shelby County Election Commission.
In Shelby County, you’re asked to fill out a form that can be mailed or scanned and emailed back. Then, the election commission will send you a ballot. Tennessee law also requires ballots to be mailed back and received at the election commission by Election Day to count. Drop-offs are not permitted.
As of Monday afternoon, Shelby County voters have requested 28,421 absentee ballots, and 21,203 have been returned by voters.
Election Commission spokesperson Suzanne Thompson said workers try to fulfill requests the same day they’re received.
“It is fast. We’re turning them around as fast as we can to get the ballot to the voter," she said. “So they can do the same thing and put that stamp on it and put it back in the post office box the same day.”
When ballots come in completed, they’re checked in the system and then put in a locked container. They cannot be touched until Election Day, per state law.
“The absentee ballots cannot be opened until Election Day. And then there’s this whole process to go through everything. They have to be sorted. Teams do it,” she said.
More than 100 bipartisan teams of two people will sort and process absentee ballots this year on Election Day. Ballots received before Nov. 3 will be processed at the FedExForum in downtown Memphis. Ballots received on Election Day will be processed at the Shelby County Election Commission Operations Center.
Official tabulation of early and absentee votes doesn’t take place until polls in the county close on Election Night.
Election officials had anticipated 40,000 to 50,000 absentee ballots would be expected this cycle in Shelby County. But they said it’s possible some voters who intended to vote absentee have voted early.
The county’s set records for early voting in 2020. As of Saturday 231,331, Shelby Countians voted early in person. Total votes so far are up 56% in the county from this time in 2016 and 66% from this time in 2012, according to the Tennessee Secretary of State’s office.