Last Updated: April 2022
Election Day: Poll open and close times vary by county. Generally, polling places in the Eastern time zone close at 8:00 pm local time and polling places in the Central time zone close at 7:00 pm local time. Opening hours vary with the population of the county. Voters in line before the polling location’s official closing time will be allowed to vote. Voters may check their polling locations open and close times by calling their county election commission and/or by viewing their county election commission’s website.
Absentee voters: Voters must mail their ballot in time for their county election commission to receive it no later than the close of polls on Election Day. Voters must return their ballot by mail (USPS, FedEx, UPS, etc.). Hand delivery or handing it to a poll worker during early voting or on Election Day is not permitted.
- For registration deadlines, see How to Register below.
How to Check Your Registration: Voters can determine whether they are registered to vote at the following link: Am I Registered?.
You are eligible to vote in Tennessee if you:
- Are at least 18 years old by Election Day
- Are a resident of Tennessee
- Are a U.S citizen
- You must not have been convicted of a felony, or if you have, your voting rights must have been restored.
You are NOT eligible to vote in Tennessee if:
- You were disqualified from voting due to a court order
- You are currently serving a sentence including incarceration, parole, probation, or extended supervision for a felony conviction
Tennessee has different rules regarding felony convictions before May 18, 1981. See here for more information: https://www.usvotefoundation.org/voting-rights-restoration/tennessee
How to register
Tennessee residents can register online through the Tennessee Online Voter Registration System if they have a Tennessee Driver’s License or other ID issued by the TN Dept. of Safety and Homeland Security.
Tennessee law does not require a period of residency for voter registration, but voters must register at least 30 days before an election. Applicants are asked on the voter registration application to provide their address in Tennessee, but a home address is not required to register to vote. Instructions for individuals without a home address can be found on the Secretary of State’s website. Applicants are asked to sign an oath affirming that the address provided in the application is their legal residence.
If You Want to Vote Absentee, requests may be made:
- By Mail
- By Fax
- By Email
Absentee Ballots may be returned:
- By Mail
Early Voting by Mail:
Tennessee does not allow all voters to vote by mail. Voters can visit the Secretary of State’s website to determine if they are eligible to receive an absentee ballot. First time voters must appear in-person to vote if they are not a permanent absentee voter, enrolled in the Safe at Home program, or have previously voted in the county of registration.
Voters who are eligible to vote by mail may download the application for an absentee ballot on the Secretary of State’s website. The application must be received by the election commission no earlier than ninety (90) days before the election and no later than seven (7) days before the election. Applications may be submitted by mail, fax, or email to the voter’s county election commission. If emailed, the voter must scan and attach the completed form to the email.
Voters who vote absentee by mail are not required to submit photo IDs with their ballots.
Voters must return absentee ballots in time for the county election commission to receive them no later than the close of polls on Election Day. Absentee ballots must be returned by mail (USPS, FedEx, UPS, etc.). Hand delivery or handing it to a poll worker during early voting or on Election Day is not permitted.
Early Voting In Person:
Tennessee permits all voters to vote early in-person. A voter may contact their local county election commission office, the GoVoteTN App (available for phone and computer), or the Registered Voter voter lookup on the GoVoteTN website, to determine where to vote. The early voting period typically begins twenty (20) days before an election and ends five (5) days before an election. Polls are closed on Sundays and holidays during that period.
To register to vote in Tennessee you should provide:
- Your Social Security Number
In Tennessee, you need to show a valid photo ID to vote. You can use any ID from this list, even if expired:
- Tennessee ID Card
- Valid Federal Issued ID
- Valid US Passport
- Valid Tennessee Driver’s License
- Valid ID Issued by the Tennessee Department of Homeland Security
- Valid Military ID
- License to Carry Concealed Weapon or Firearm
First time voters who register online or by mail, if the ID is expired, must also present one of the following: * a copy of a current utility bill * bank statement * government check * paycheck * other government document that shows the voter’s name and address
The following voters are exempt from ID requirements:
- Voters who vote absentee by mail:
- Voters who are residents of a licensed nursing home or an assisted living center and who vote at the facility;
- Voters who are hospitalized;
- Voters with a religious objection to being photographed; or
- Voters who are indigent and unable to obtain a photo ID without paying a fee.
Any of the following IDs may be used, even if expired:
- Tennessee driver’s 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 Tennessee state government;
- United States Military photo ID; or
- Tennessee handgun carry permit with your photo.
If your ID is expired and you are a first-time voter who registered by mail or using online voter registration, you must also present:
- A copy of a current utility bill;
- A bank statement;
- A government check;
- A paycheck; or
- Another government document that shows the voter’s name and address.
If a voter does not have a photo ID, a free photo ID to vote may be obtained from the Department of Safety and Homeland Security at any participating driver service center across the state.
If a voter does not bring a photo ID to vote, they can request a provisional ballot. The voter will then have two (2) business days after Election Day to return to the election commission office to show a valid photo ID. Upon returning to the election commission office, the voter will sign an affidavit and a copy of the voter’s photo ID will be made to be reviewed by the counting board.
Moving Between Counties
If you have moved addresses to a different county, you will need to re-register at your polling place corresponding to your new address no later than thirty (30) days before the election. You cannot vote unless you register in the appropriate county in Tennessee.
Moving Within the Same County
If you move within the same county you may, no later than five (5) days before an election, submit an updated and signed voter registration form online, in person, by mail, by fax, or by email to the local election commission office. Alternatively, you may update your address and vote during early voting at any early voting location within your county. A voter who has moved within a county may also complete an affidavit and vote at either their new polling location or at a central location designated by the county election commission office on Election Day.
Service members and their dependents may register and request a ballot using the federal voter registration/ballot request form (“FPCA”). You will have the following identification options when completing the form:
- Complete Social Security Number
U.S. citizens living overseas may register and request a ballot using the overseas voter registration/ballot request form. You will have the following identification options when completing the form:
- Complete Social Security Number
Military personnel, their family members and overseas voters may visit the Secretary of States website to confirm their eligibility to receive an absentee ballot.
Qualifying military personnel, their family members and overseas voters may request an absentee ballot by completing the Federal Post Card Application (FPCA). The completed application may be mailed, faxed or emailed with an attached document containing a scanned signature to the local county election commission. Applications must be received no earlier than January 1 of the year in which the election is to be held (unless the election is to be held less than ninety (90) days after January 1 of the calendar year) and no later than (7) days before the election.
If you were not registered prior to requesting an absentee ballot, your application for an absentee ballot will be treated as an application for temporary registration.
Qualifying military personnel, their family members and overseas voters may receive an absentee ballot by mail or e-mail. If you do not indicate how you would like your absentee ballot sent in your application it will be mailed. You cannot receive your absentee ballot by fax.
The completed ballot must be received by mail by the close of the polls on election day.
After timely requesting an official absentee ballot, military personnel, their family members and overseas voters who feel that there may not be a sufficient amount of time to receive and then return the voted ballot may also use the Federal Write-In Absentee Ballot (FWAB). The completed FWAB must be received by the close of the polls on election day.
Tennessee voters incarcerated for a misdemeanor or awaiting trial for any charge and who have not previously lost their voting rights due to a prior conviction, may register to vote and request an absentee ballot.
Tennessee residents with felony convictions who have not had their voting rights restored or had their records expunged may not be eligible to vote. The voter’s eligibility depends upon the crime they were convicted of and the date of the conviction.
For a detailed list see: restoration-of-voting-rights
If you were convicted of one of the listed crimes, but can show that at the time of your conviction the judge did not render you “infamous,” you still have the right to vote.
Restoration of Voting Rights
An individual may submit a restoration of voting rights form to have their voting rights restored for felony convictions on or after May 18, 1981. A separate form must be completed for each felony conviction with a different docket/case number.
The form must be completed by an agent, such as a probation/parole officer or criminal court clerk who possesses the authority to provide the required information regarding the individual’s conviction, final release date and information regarding restitution or court cost. Once completed the form must be submitted to the local county election commission office.