Some Tennessee counties in rush for absentee ballots, others not

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — Just over a month remains before Tennesseans have a statewide primary, but what is the status of getting an absentee ballot?

COVID-19 has brought more requests than ever before in some counties like Davidson where 14,431 absentee ballots have been requested as of Monday.

The absentee ballot issue is a complicated one in Tennessee with a Nashville court order allowing vote by mail because of COVID-19.

The order is being appealed by the state of Tennessee to the state supreme court, but for now local election commissioners are required to provide absentee ballots by mail.  

Here is what the Davidson County Election Commission website for Metro Nashville said about the courts/COVID-19 and absentee ballots:

“Pursuant to the June 4, 2020 order of the Davidson County Chancery Court, if you are a registered voter and do not wish to vote in person due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you are eligible to request an absentee ballot by mail.”

The 14-thousand plus absent ballot requests show a lot of interest from Nashville voters in this election cycle, and likely the November presidential election.

By comparison, just over 1,700 requests for absentee ballots were made during the entire August 2016 primary cycle.

Not all parts of Tennessee–like Rutherford County–have had the rush for absentee ballots that neighboring Nashville has.

Rutherford County’s election coordinator says the it has had only had 1,648 requests for absentee ballots as of Monday morning out its 180,000 registered voters.

That figure is still higher than the 457-absentee ballots requested for the August 2016 primary cycle.

Election coordinators from Nashville to every corner of Tennessee say most absentee ballots requests come in the last two weeks before an election.

State law requires that absentee ballot application requests for the August primary must be received at county election commissions by July 30th.

To be counted, the absentee ballot must be received by mail, the day of the election August 6th.  

Absentee ballots can be requested for the November statewide general election beginning 90-days before the election.

Things could change if the Tennessee Supreme Court reverses the decision.

A date when the five justices would hear an appeal has not been set yet.

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