Tennessee ID requirements for voting by mail

COVID-19 Advisory: Based on a court order, if you are a registered voter and do not wish to vote in-person due to the COVID-19 situation, you are eligible to request an absentee ballot. To vote by mail you must meet one of the reasons listed below and submit a request by mail, fax, or email to your county election commission no later than the 7th day before the election. More information including the absentee ballot request form is available on the Tennessee Secretary of State’s websiteClick here to find contact information for your election commission.

Note: If you have never voted before and you registered to vote by mail, then you must vote IN-PERSON the first time you vote.

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 is unable to appear at their 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 the caretaker of a person who is hospitalized, ill, or has a disability, 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 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

First-time voters

When you register to vote or vote for the first time in a federal election in your state, you must prove who you are:
  • If you register to vote in person, you must show a driver’s license, state ID, or provide the last 4 digits of your social security number (SSN), if you have one.
  • If you registered by mail and did not include your state’s driver’s license number or the last 4 digits of your SSN, you must show an acceptable form of ID (see below) at your polling place.
  • If you apply for an absentee/vote by mail ballot and did not include your state’s driver’s license number or the last 4 digits of your SSN when you registered by mail, you must include a copy of an acceptable ID (see below).

Here is a list of acceptable IDs: Documents that prove who you are

Your state may have other ID requirements for voting in person or for absentee/vote by mail ballot.

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 section above.

Do you need to submit ID with your ballot?

No, but the signature on your mail ballot must match other signatures on file.

Last update: July 12, 2020

Hannah Piercey

Close