UTC Students’ Guide to Voting in 2020

By John Jason Francis, Staff Writer

In the midst of an ongoing pandemic, questions regarding voting in the 2020 election are increasing, but this guide provides necessary answers for voters who are preparing for Election Day on Tuesday, Nov. 3.

It is important that voters know their registration status prior to the election. Voters can visit https://www.usa.gov/confirm-voter-registration which will direct them to the necessary resources to verify their registration status. Even if a voter believes they are registered, it is beneficial to check their status to make sure they have not been removed from registration rolls.

Voters who have not yet registered should visit https://www.vote.org/register-to-vote/ to start the registration process. Residents of Tennessee, specifically, should visit https://ovr.govote.tn.gov/ to register. The deadline to register to vote in Tennessee is Monday, Oct. 5, 2020.

Once voters have registered to vote or have verified their registration, the next step in the process is to know how to vote in the election. There are two options available for voters: in-person voting and mail-in voting.

For in-person voting on Nov. 3, Tennessee voters should arrive at their polling location with a valid form of identification. Acceptable forms of identification include a Tennessee driver’s license with a photo ID, a U.S. passport, any photo ID issued by the federal or Tennessee state government or a U.S. Military photo ID.

Voters should note that college IDs, library cards and IDs issued by states other than Tennessee are not acceptable forms of identification for voting in the state of Tennessee.

However, a photo ID is not required for absentee ballots, which are the voting forms that are sent to individuals who choose to do mail-in voting. Voting by mail is usually reserved for individuals who cannot be present for in-person voting during the early voting period or on Election Day, but, with the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic, Tennessee voters may now request an absentee ballot if they believe their health and safety are at risk due to the virus.

For more detailed instructions on absentee voting in the state of Tennessee visit https://sos.tn.gov/node/5850 or, for non-Tennessee residents, visit https://www.vote.org/absentee-voting-rules/ to find information regarding absentee voting in any state.

Tennessee voters can find a Voter Registration Information Lookup and Absentee By-Mail Ballot Status Tracker at https://tnmap.tn.gov/voterlookup/ which provides vital information such as their registration status, the location of their designated polling place, locations of early voting sites and the status of their absentee ballot.

This tool also provides the hours all polling locations are open during the early voting period or on Election Day. Voters who are in line at the polls are legally required to be able to cast their vote even if it is past closing time for the polling location.

Any further updates, campus events and/or other information related to the 2020 election will be reported by the UTC Echo.

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