Tennessee ID requirements for voting by mail

COVID-19 Advisory: Although there are ads circulating which suggest that all voters can vote from home, the office of the Elections Coordinator has stated that fear of getting ill does not fall under the definition of being ill. Therefore, in order to vote absentee, you must meet one of the state's eligibility requirements. The deadline to request an absentee ballot is July 30.

Who is eligible to request an absentee ballot and vote by mail?

First time Tennessee voters who registered by mail CANNOT vote absentee.

Other Tennessee voters must meet one of the following excuses to vote absentee:

  • The voter will be outside the county of registration 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 is medically unable; voter’s physician must provide a statement to the County Election Commission
  • The voter resides in a licensed facility providing relatively permanent domiciliary care, other than a penal institution, outside the voter's county of residence
  • The voter will be unable to vote in person due to service as a juror for a federal or state court
  • The voter is sixty years of age or older
  • The voter has a physical disability and an inaccessible polling place
  • The voter is hospitalized, ill, or has a physical disability and because of such condition, cannot vote in person
  • The voter is a caretaker of a person who is hospitalized, ill, or has a disability
  • The voter is a candidate for office in the election
  • The voter serves as an Election Day official or as a member or employee of the election commission
  • The voter’s observance of a religious holiday prevents them from voting in person during the early voting period and on Election Day
  • The voter or the voter’s spouse possesses a valid commercial drivers license (CDL) or the voter possesses a valid Transportation Worker Identification Credential (TWIC) card and certifies that the voter will be working outside the state or county of registration during the early voting period and all day on Election Day
  • The voter is a member of the military or is an overseas citizen

Voter Registration

First-time voters who have not voted in a previous federal election, or who have never voted in their county of residence in a federal election, AND who did not provide either a driver’s license number or the last four digits of a Social Security number at the time of registration, must present documentation proving their identity in order to complete their voter registration. First time voters who are voting in person must present this documentation at the polls. First time voters who are voting by mail/absentee ballot must enclose a copy of such documentation with their ballot request or ballot. This is required under the federal Help America Vote Act, enacted in 2002.

Unless an individual who has registered to vote by mail is on the permanent absentee voting register, that person must appear in person to vote in the first election after the registration becomes effective. If a by-mail registrant has already voted in person since the registration, then no additional information will be required to vote by mail.

Do you need to submit ID with your absentee ballot request?

No, but voters must provide their Social Security Number on the application.

First-time votes may need to submit ID – see Voter Registration section above.

Do you need to submit ID with your ballot?

No, but the signature on your mail ballot must match your voter registration signature.

Last update: May 18, 2020

Hannah Piercey

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