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Tennessee

0 /65
Vote at Home Score

2020 General Election

Turnout rate (VEP)

0 %

Votes cast from mailed-out ballots

0 %

2016 General Election

Turnout rate (VEP)

0 %

Votes cast from mailed out ballots

0 %

State election policies as of 2022...

Full Vote-at-Home

0/10

Full Vote-at-Home

Voter automatically mailed ballot for every election

No Excuse Required

1/6

No Excuse Required

No excuse to vote from home

Single Sign-Up

1/6

Single Sign-Up

Voter signs up once to receive mail ballot for all future elections

Local Vote-at-Home Option

0/5

Local VAH Option

Local governments have discretion to conduct full vote-at-home elections

Online Mail Ballot Sign-Up

2/2

Online Mail Ballot Sign-Up

Voter can apply for mail ballot online

Ballot Tracking

2/4

Ballot Tracking

Voter can receive ballot status notifications.

In-Person Ballot Return

0/5

In-Person Ballot Return

Voter has multiple options to return mail ballot in person

Signature Verification

4/4

Signature Verification

Voter signature verified before ballot is counted

Ballot Cure Process

0/4

Ballot Cure Process

Voter can correct issues so ballot can be counted

Prepaid Postage

0/4

Prepaid Postage

Postage-paid return envelopes provided

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

404

Election Day Postmark Acceptance

Ballots postmarked by Election Day are accepted

In-Person Voting

4/4

In-Person Return

Physical locations for voters to vote and receive assistance

Pre-Processing

0/3

Signature Verification

Ballots are verified and scanned before Election Day

Mail Ballot Applications

2/2

Mail Ballot Applications

Election officials can mail ballot applications to all voters eligible to vote from home

Ballot Return Assistance

0/2

Ballot Return Assistance

Voters may receive assistance to return their mail ballot

Opportunities

By passing legislation to allow voters to vote by mail ballot without needing an excuse, Tennessee can give their citizens the opportunity to vote in whichever manner they find safest and most convenient. Additionally, an increase in mail ballots often means a decrease in both lines and costs.
Tennessee can reduce costs and increase voter convenience by expanding its permanent absentee option, where voters can sign up to automatically be sent an absentee ballot for each election without having to re-apply, to all voters. States experience significant savings with these lists; on average, states save $1 for every request they no longer need to process.
Tennessee can increase voter confidence by allowing voters to track their ballot much like an Amazon package by improving its current ballot tracking system. Advanced ballot tracking systems can proactively notify voters when their ballot takes a new step in the path from being sent to them to finally being counted (or rejected). If a ballot is rejected, these ballot tracking tools can be used as another method to contact voters if there is a signature mismatch or deficiency on their return envelope.
Creating an online portal for voters to request an absentee ballot not only makes it much more convenient for voters, it also would be a boon to election officials. The system could be built to feed directly into the voter registration system to help verify addresses, collect contact information, and to remove administrative steps (and costs!) to process a large amount of requests. We encourage an integrated process that allows new voters to register, current voters to make changes to their address and make requests for ballots in a seamless manner.
Offering secure drop boxes as another method for voters to return ballots are a cost-effective way to reduce strain on the postal system, and are sometimes a preferred method by voters who want an extra bit of reassurance that their ballot makes it to the elections office on time. We highly recommend including provisions to allow for ballots to be received at polling places, vote centers, county election commission offices, as well as other locations deemed necessary by the clerk.
Simplifying the return process for a ballot is just as important as simplifying the request process. Prepaying postage on ballot return envelopes can increase return rates by ensuring that voters do not need to make an extra trip to the post office.
Accepting ballots with Election Day postmarks is a best practice to ensure that voters are given all options to vote their ballot in a timely manner and lower ballot rejection rates. Accepting Election Day postmarks is estimated in most jurisdictions to decrease ballot rejection rates by half. We recommend that not only does a state allow the physical postmark on a ballot, but also to integrate into the USPS system for electronic postmarks to serve as validation that a ballot was mailed on time.
In the event that a voter’s ballot is rejected, said voter should have the ability to cure their ballot quickly and simply. As more voters use absentee ballots and, understandably, the number of rejected absentee ballots increases, we recommend implementing a Text2Cure system that allows voters to cure their ballots from their phones.
We highly recommend implementing vote centers, or polling locations where any voter in the county can vote, in all counties. This is a way to streamline the system so over time, as the share of the vote cast by mail increases, counties can have fewer overall polling locations, while individual voters will have more voting location options.

Recent Legislation

As of May 24, 2021

In 2020, Tennessee made no significant changes to its election system, and was one of only five states to not offer voting by mail without an excuse in the general election. Disappointingly, the most significant bill related to mail voting that became law in 2021 limits the options of election officials to accept donations, such as grants to buy more election equipment or pay for ballot tracking (SB1534). The state also made minor improvements in 2021: the state allowed more types of care facilities to become early voting sites (HB1098), added watermarks on ballots (HB1276), and made technical updates to provisions on vote centers (HB1178).

Last Updated