A little more than 1,600 Sumner County residents have requested to vote by absentee ballot for the Aug. 6 federal and state and county general election, according to a local election office official.
Already, that number is more than three times the number of people who requested to vote by absentee ballot four years ago.
“I received 462 requests to vote absentee in the August 2016 election,” said Sumner County Election Office Deputy Becky Shields. “So yes, I’d say we’ve been very busy.”
A Davidson County Chancery Court judge ruled in early June that registered voters who don’t want to vote in person due to COVID-19 can request an absentee ballot for the upcoming August primary and November general elections.
Typically, Tennessee voters must apply to vote absentee and must fall under a certain category that includes those 60 years of age or older, the physically disabled or those who are caretakers of someone who is ill or disabled.
Those who would like to receive an absentee ballot must fill out an application either online or at the election office. Residents who have not registered to vote or who have not voted in person at least once must first show a valid photo ID before they will be allowed to vote by mail, according to Shields.
The last day to request an absentee ballot is July 30. New to the Sumner County Election Office website is an absentee ballot tracker.
“People can go to our website and type in their voter information and see where they are in the process,” Shields said.
She recommends that those who do mail in their ballots do so early.
“We’ve been told by the post office that it may take up to a week to deliver the ballots,” she said. “So, I’d recommend they get their ballot in the mail at least a week before election day.”
Those who wish to vote early may do so beginning July 17. Early voting will be held at the Sumner County Board of Education gymnasium, 695 East Main Street in Gallatin. Masks are recommended but not required.
Unlike previous elections, there will be no early voting locations in Hendersonville, Portland, Westmoreland, White House or Goodlettsville.
“It’s not ideal, and I know some people aren’t going to like it,” said Sumner County Administrator of Elections Lori Atchley. “But we’re doing the best we can given the circumstances.”
Before COVID-19, two churches – one in Hendersonville and another in Gallatin – had agree to host early voting for the August and November elections.
Atchley said the two churches weren’t under contract and had offered their venues for free. With the uncertainty now surrounding the coronavirus, Atchley said the decision was made to have early voting at a county-owned building in case the church sites were no longer available.
A map with directions can be found on the Sumner County Election Commission website at votesumnertn.org.
Hours of early voting are 8 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. Monday thru Friday and 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. on Saturdays, July 24, 31 and August 1, 2020. Early voting runs through Saturday, Aug. 1.
Offices on the federal and state primary ballot include U.S. Senate; U. S. House of Representatives Congressional 6th District; Tennessee Senate District 18; Tennessee House of Representatives Districts 40, 44 and 45; and Democratic State Executive Committeewoman District 18. The Sumner County General Election includes Assessor of Property and School Board Districts 2, 4, 6, 8 and 10. Also on the ballot is one judicial retention question.
Sumner County residents not already registered to vote have until Tuesday, July 7 to register in order to be eligible to vote in the Aug. 6 election.
Currently there are 116,000 registered voters in Sumner County. About 10 percent of registered Sumner County voters voted in the August 2016 election.
For more information contact the Election Office at 615-452-1456.