Absentee Voting 101: What Tennessee Candidates Need to Know
Meet The Candidates | June 09, 2024
ThinkTennessee, a nonpartisan think tank, has released a comprehensive voter education series, including a policy brief dedicated to absentee voting in the state.

Written by: JR Robinson

As the 2024 election cycle approaches, Tennessee candidates and campaigns must prioritize educating voters on the state's absentee voting process. With strict eligibility requirements and a firm receipt deadline for absentee ballots, ensuring that eligible voters are informed about their options is crucial for promoting widespread participation in the democratic process.

Fortunately, ThinkTennessee, a nonpartisan think tank, has released a comprehensive voter education series, including a policy brief dedicated to absentee voting in the state. This invaluable resource provides a wealth of information on the rules, requirements, and deadlines associated with absentee voting, empowering candidates and campaigns to effectively disseminate this information to their constituents.

Eligibility for Absentee Voting in Tennessee

According to ThinkTennessee's absentee voting brief, Tennessee voters are eligible to vote absentee in an election if they cannot make it to the polls on Election Day for one of the following reasons:

It is crucial for candidates and campaigns to educate voters on these eligibility criteria to ensure that those who qualify are aware of their option to vote absentee.

Requesting an Absentee Ballot

According to ThinkTennessee's brief, to vote absentee in Tennessee, a request must be received by county election officials no earlier than 90 days and no later than seven days prior to the election. [4] This request can be made in person, by mail, or through other methods approved by the local election office.

Candidates and campaigns should emphasize the importance of submitting absentee ballot requests well in advance of the seven-day deadline to ensure that voters receive their ballots in time to cast their votes.

Returning an Absentee Ballot

Once an absentee ballot is received, voters must carefully follow the instructions for completing and returning it. According to ThinkTennessee's brief and the information provided by Vote.org, completed absentee ballots in Tennessee must be returned by mail and received by the close of polls on Election Day. [4][5]

It is important for candidates and campaigns to emphasize the strict receipt deadline for absentee ballots in Tennessee. Unlike some other states, Tennessee does not accept absentee ballots that are postmarked by Election Day but received after the polls close. This means that voters must plan ahead and allow sufficient time for their ballots to be delivered and processed by election officials.

Candidates and campaigns should also inform voters about the requirement to return absentee ballots by mail and the prohibition on hand-delivering completed ballots to polling places or election offices.

Tracking Absentee Ballots

To ensure that their voices are heard, voters should be encouraged to track the status of their absentee ballots. According to Vote.org, Tennessee voters can track their ballots directly with the state through various online tools and resources provided by local election officials. [5]

Candidates and campaigns can play a crucial role in promoting these tracking tools and encouraging their supporters to verify that their absentee ballots have been received and accepted by election officials.

The Importance of Voter Education

ThinkTennessee's absentee voting brief is a valuable resource for candidates, campaigns, and voters alike. By providing clear and concise information on eligibility requirements, request deadlines, return procedures, and ballot tracking, this resource empowers Tennesseans to participate fully in the democratic process through absentee voting.

As the 2024 elections approach, it is crucial for candidates and campaigns to prioritize voter education and engagement efforts surrounding absentee voting. Sharing ThinkTennessee's absentee voting brief and other resources from the voter education series can help ensure that every eligible voter has the information they need to exercise their right to vote, even if they cannot make it to the polls on Election Day.

Furthermore, candidates and campaigns should consider incorporating absentee voting education initiatives into their strategies, such as hosting informational sessions, distributing educational materials, and leveraging social media and other digital platforms to reach a wider audience.

By demystifying the absentee voting process and promoting widespread voter education, Tennessee can take a significant step towards increasing civic engagement and fostering a more inclusive and representative democracy.

As the high-stakes U.S. Senate race between Marsha Blackburn and Gloria Johnson intensifies, ensuring that every eligible voter understands the absentee voting process and its strict deadlines will be crucial in shaping the outcome of this pivotal election and the future of Tennessee.

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