Voting’s easy. Here’s how. Just do it!
The countdown for the November presidential election has begun. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when even simple tasks have begun cumbersome, The Tennessee Election Commission as well as local boards around the state are working to make sure voting is simple, safe, and accessible.
Statewide, election commissions have done a remarkable job while also making sure the election is fair and the process is transparent. It has not been a simple task and has been made even more difficult by the efforts of some to discourage and confuse citizens, not as much so in Tennessee as in other states.
When it comes to voting, we take sides. We are definitely biased. EVERY qualified citizen —regardless of political affiliation, ideology, ethnicity, gender identity, faith — must vote and access to ballots needs to be simple and plentiful. No qualified voter should have a reason not to cast a ballot.
The registration deadline to vote in the November election has already passed. So, if you are not registered to vote, shame on you.
Early voting begins Oct. 14, and continues until Oct. 29. If you plan to vote early, this is what you must bring with you when you come to vote at the Carter County Election Commission office:
• You will need to show photo ID to vote in Tennessee. Acceptable forms include (can be expired): Tennessee driver’s license; US passport; photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security; photo ID issued by the federal or Tennessee state government; US military photo ID; or Tennessee handgun carry permit with your photo. College student IDs are not acceptable.
• If you’re a first-time voter who registered by mail, you will also need to show proof of residence to vote. Acceptable forms include: a current photo ID (unexpired); or a copy of a current utility bill, bank statement, government check, paycheck or other government document that shows your name and address.
• Voters without ID: If you are unable to provide ID, you will be able to vote a provisional ballot. You will then have two (2) business days after Election Day to return to the election commission office to show a valid photo ID. Upon returning to the election commission office, the voter will sign an affidavit and a copy of the voter’s photo ID will be made to be reviewed by the counting board.
Election Day is Nov. 3. In addition to voting early, Tennessee offers absentee ballots by mail to voters who will be unable to vote in person. All other voters are expected to vote in person. Absentee ballot requests must be received by Oct. 27 and received by mail by Nov. 3 by close of polls.
Your vote matters, and it’s more important than ever to speak out and vote. Voting offers the ability for people to leverage their voices to elect leaders that have both their community and the country’s best interest at heart.
As Election Day approaches, we must understand the wide-ranging impact that local and national elections have on democracy.
While the presidential election plays a vital role in shaping many policies surrounding the country, it is, of course, not the only race. The presidential election is important, but problems and issues concerning most people are resolved by local officials. In addition, local officials have a widespread impact that can affect national politics, especially the offices of congressman and senator, and those of school board and city council.
As this November rolls around, remember that your vote matters. Whether you vote by mail or prefer to vote in person, you have the power to challenge the system and work to build an America that works for you and your community.