Voting in Tennessee
Voting in 2014 Primaries
Ballot access for major and minor party candidates
Absentee voting • Early voting
Open Primary • Closed Primary • Blanket Primary
Online voter registration in the 50 states
To vote in Tennessee, you must meet the following requirements:
- You must be a citizen of the United States, (18) years of age or older on or before the date of the next election.
- You must be a resident of Tennessee.
- You must not have been convicted of a felony, or if you have, your full rights of citizenship must have been restored (or you must have received a pardon). View Restoration of Voting Rights.
- In order to participate in an election, a qualified voter must be properly registered no later than thirty (30) days before the election. The election commission office will process any by-mail voter registration form that has been postmarked at least thirty (30) days before the election. T.C.A 2-2-109.
When and where
You can register to vote by completing a Voter Registration Application and mailing it to your county election commission. You can also register in person at one of the following locations:
- County Clerk’s Offices
- County Election Commission Office
- Department of Health (WIC program)
- Department of Human Services
- Department of Mental Health
- Department of Safety (motor vehicles division)
- Department of Veteran’s Affairs
- Public Libraries
- Register of Deeds Offices
Registration must be completed roughly 29 days prior to an election.
As of August 2014, Tennessee is one of the 35 states that have not implemented online voter registration.
Voting on Election Day
At polling places, voters must show government-issued photo identification. Valid forms of ID do not include student ID cards from state universities.
- See also: State Poll Opening and Closing Times
In Tennessee, most polling places are open between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. All precincts close at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and 7:00 p.m. Central. The polls must be open a minimum of 10 hours and may be open for a maximum of 13 hours.
Tennessee is split between Eastern and Central time zones.
- See also: Absentee voting
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:
- 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’s licensed physician has filed a statement with the county election commission stating that, in the physician's judgment, the voter is medically unable to vote in person. The statement must be filed not less than seven (7) days before the election and signed under the penalty of perjury;
- 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 (60) years of age or older;
- The voter has a physical disability and an inaccessible polling place;
- The voter is hospitalized, ill, or physically disabled and because of such condition, cannot vote in person;
- The voter is a caretaker of a person who is hospitalized, ill, or disabled;
- 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 him or her 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 he or she will be working outside the state or county of registration during the open hours of early voting and Election Day, and has no specific out-of-county or out-of-state address to which mail may be sent or received during such time;
- The voter is a member of the military or is an overseas citizen.
To vote absentee a request must be received by the county election commission no earlier than 90 days and no later than seven days prior to the election. The ballot must then be returned by close of polls on Election Day.
Military and overseas voting
For full details, visit the Federal Voting Assistance Program here.
- See also: Early voting
Tennessee is one of 34 states that has early voting with no specific requirements as to who can vote early. Early voting begins 20 days before Election Day and ends five days prior. The average number of days prior to an election that voters can cast an early ballot is 21 days in states with a definitive starting date.
- Tennessee Secretary of State, "Voter qualifications," accessed June 4, 2014
- Tennessee Secretary of State, "Registration information," accessed June 4, 2014
- Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, "Voter Photo ID," accessed June 4, 2014
- vote411.org, "Voting in Tennessee," accessed January 3, 2014
- National Conference of State Legislatures Website, "State Primary Election Types," accessed January 6, 2014
- Fair Vote, "Congressional and Presidential Primaries: Open, Closed, Semi-Closed, and 'Top Two,'" accessed January 6, 2014
- Ballotpedia research conducted December 26, 2013 through January 3, 2014 researching and analyzing various state websites and codes.
- Tennessee Secretary of State, "Absentee Voting," accessed December 16, 2013
- Tennessee Secretary of State, "Early Voting," accessed December 16, 2013