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Requests for mail-in ballots on the rise

Robert Houk • Jun 29, 2020 at 7:29 PM

Washington County election officials said Monday they have received more than 900 requests to vote by mail in the Aug. 6 election.

The deadline to request a mail-in ballot is July 30. Early voting in the election, which includes state and federal primaries, as well as a a county general election, begins July 17.

“We are seeing an increase in our requests for mail-in ballots,” said Maybell Stewart, Washington County’s administrator of elections.

Stewart said the March 3 county primary saw 427 absentee ballots returned in Washington County.

 As a result of a ruling by Davidson County Chancellor Ellen Hobbs Lyle earlier this month, state election officials are required to make mail-in absentee ballots available to all registered voters in Tennessee who believe it is “impossible or unreasonable” to vote in person because of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The state’s attorney general is appealing the chancellor’s original June 4 ruling. Meanwhile, the Tennessee Supreme Court has refused to immediately block Lyle’s ruling for the primaries and general election, but has stated it will fast-track the appeal process by taking over jurisdiction of the case.

Tennessee state law currently provides several ways to vote by mail ballot. In addition to a voter being 60 or older, other reasons that have been allowed under state law to vote by mail are:

• 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 unable to appear at his/her polling place to vote; and/or the voter has determined it is impossible or unreasonable to vote in-person due to the COVID-19 situation.

• 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.

For a more more information on how to vote absentee by mail, go to GoVoteTN.com. Voters who wish to vote by mail can submit a written request to their local election commission by mail, fax or email.

The Washington County Election Commission can be reached by going to wcecoffice.com, or by calling 753-1688.

To receive a primary ballot for the August election, you must request either a Republican or Democratic primary ballot. If a party is not specified, you will receive only the general election ballot.