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Sunday News Round-Up, Tennessee Election Edition – What You Need to Know to Vote

November 4, 2012

Voter Identification
Photo ID is required to vote now in Tennessee. The following forms of ID will be accepted and having any one of these will allow you to vote (if you’re registered): Tennessee drivers license with your photo; United States Passport; photo ID issued by the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security; photo ID issued by the federal or any state government; United States Military photo ID; state-issued handgun carry permit with your photo. Students’ college ID cards will not be accepted.

Details are listed here from the Secretary of State, but they omit a special detail about Memphis – the Tennessee Supreme Court has ordered that Memphis photo library cards must be accepted at the polls.

Where to Vote
Tennessee voters can look up where they should vote using this website. You’ll need to enter your name, county, birth date, and last four numbers of your Social Security Number. Then it will tell you the name and address of your polling location (where you should vote) as well as which districts you are in (which races you will vote for).

What Time to Vote
The actual hours for voting vary by state/location, and it’s sometimes shockingly difficult to find the actual hours the polls will be open. Your county’s sample ballot may include the hours, but it may not be super obvious. For example, in the online sample ballot for my county, early voting hours are detailed day by day on the very first page, but actual election day hours are on one line, 6 pages in.

I’ve noticed conflicting hours on some sites. My sample ballot says polls are open in Davidson County from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. Other national look-up sites, like Rock the Vote, say it’s 8:00 am to 8:00 pm. Go with the local information. Memphis also says its 7am to 7pm. Please plan on being in line at your polling place before 7:00 pm. As long as you are in line before 7:00 pm (and are registered, and have ID), they have to let you vote.

Making Sure You Vote in the Right Races
There have been reports of voters receiving the wrong ballot and being unable to switch to the correct one. Please review your ballot before beginning to vote in any of the races. You’ll need the information on what state House and Senate districts you should be voting in (see above), and it helps if you know which names you should be seeing. You *must* ask for a correct ballot *before* you cast the incorrect one. There are no do-overs after your incorrect ballot is cast.

Review Your Sample Ballot
You’ll have to go to your own county’s election website to find your sample ballot. Here they are for Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville.

Unfortunately sample ballots include all of the districts and races for an election, so you’ll still need to know which districts you should be seeing. One thing you can do is print your sample ballot and mark the districts you know you need to vote in.

More Information
The Tennessee ACLU provides this Voter Empowerment Card – which provides some details on problems you might run into at the polls, your rights, and what to do if your right to vote is challenged.

Tennessee Citizen Action also provides a list of helpful resources, including links to info on provisional ballots, voting while trans, and the new photo ID law.

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