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Home News Local News Update: Tennessee has not expanded opportunities for absentee voting

Update: Tennessee has not expanded opportunities for absentee voting

A story reported by the Independent Herald last week, about eligible voters being able to begin requesting absentee ballots for the Aug. 6 general election, stirred some anger in Scott County after some readers mistakenly believed that the list of voters who qualify to vote by mail was being increased.

That, however, is not the case.

Gabe Krahn, Scott County administrator of elections, confirmed to the Independent Herald that there have been no changes to the people who qualify for absentee voting.

According to a release by the state, there are a number of reasons to be allowed to vote by mail under state law, including:

  • Being 60 years of age or older.
  • The voter will be outside the county where they vote during the early voting period and all day on Election Day.
  • The voter or the voter’s spouse is enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited college or university outside the county of registration.
  • The voter will be unable to vote in person due to service as a juror.
  • The voter is hospitalized, ill or physically disabled and because of such condition, cannot vote in person.
  • The voter is a caretaker of a person who is hospitalized, ill or disabled.
  • The voter will be working as a poll official.
  • The voter is a member of the military and out of the county where they vote.

While there has been a growing clamor for increased absentee voting in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak — and assumed Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden has speculated that the entire November election might be by mail — Krahn said that none of those reasons for voting by mail in Tennessee have changed.

“As of now there are no changes to the way people vote absentee by mail,” Krahn told the IH Monday morning. “It’s the same standards as always.”

Even the option allowing those 60 or older to vote by mail has been on the books for two years. Krahn explained that the change was made when the TN Dept. of Safety allowed renewals without pictures for people age 60 or older.

“There will be a lot of media encouraging voters over 60 to vote by mail, but that is the same option as usual,” Krahn said.

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Krahn pointed out that two lawsuits have been filed in Tennessee seeking an expansion of absentee voting, but nothing has changed. “So as for now, it’s voting as usual,” she said.

For voters who meet a reason under Tennessee law to vote absentee by-mail, the next step is to submit a written request to the Scott County Election Commission by mail, fax or email. (scotteleccom@highland.net)

To submit a request by email, attach a document with all the necessary information listed and your scanned signature.

Your request must include:

  • Your name
  • address where you live
  • full social security number
  • date of birth
  • The address to mail the ballot to, if different than your home address
  • For the August election, to receive a primary ballot, you must request either a Republican or Democratic primary ballot. If a party is not specified, you will only receive the general election ballot.
  • Which of the qualifying reasons you meet to vote absentee by-mail. For example, I am 60 years old.
  • Your signature

While not required, a phone number is recommended in case the Scott County election commission needs any additional information.

Requests must be received by the election commission no later than seven (7) days before the election. For the Aug. 6 State and Federal Primary and County General Election, complete absentee by-mail requests must be received by July 30.

“Gabe Krahn, administrator of elections has been diligently preparing for this election,” said Tennessee Secretary of State Tre Hargett. “They are ready to assist you with your absentee by-mail ballot request.”

For more information about who can and how to vote absentee by-mail call 423-663-3210.

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Independent Herald
Contact the Independent Herald at newsroom@ihoneida.com. Follow us on Twitter, @indherald.
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