Tennessee Absentee Ballot Guide

Last updated March 22, 2016
Military and Overseas voters should visit the Overseas Vote Foundation. Long Distance Voter's information should only be used by voters with US mailing addresses.

First-time voters who register to vote by mail cannot vote by absentee ballot. These voters must vote in person.

Important Deadlines

  • Voter Registration: Postmarked 30 days before the election
  • Absentee Ballot Application: Received by the Tuesday before the election
  • Voted Absentee Ballot: Received via mail by close of polls on Election Day

How to vote by absentee ballot

Register to vote

Recommended: use our Voter Registration Tool.  Enter your information, print and sign the completed form, and mail it to the address printed on the form. 

If you don't want to use the widget, you can download and complete the Tennessee Voter Registration FormSign the form and mail it to your County Election Commission.

Verify your voter registration

It's best to verify your voter registration before applying for your absentee ballot.  If there's a problem with your registration, register again before proceeding.

NOTE: Most people receive their voter registration cards in the mail 2-3 weeks after registering to vote. Don't worry if you lost your voter registration card. You don't actually need it to vote.

Make sure you're eligible to vote by absentee ballot

Tennessee calls absentee ballots "by-mail ballots."  You may not vote a by-mail ballot if you are a first-time voter who registered to vote by mail.  You may vote by absentee ballot if you meet at least one of the following requirements:  

  • you will be outside the county of registration during the early voting period and all day on election day;
  • you or your spouse are enrolled as a full-time student in an accredited college or university outside the county of registration;
  • a licensed physician has filed a statement with the county election commission stating that, in the physician's judgment, you are medically unable to vote in person. The statement must be filed not less than five (5) days before the election and signed under the penalty of perjury;
  • you reside in a licensed facility providing relatively permanent domiciliary care, other than a penal institution, outside the voter's county of residence;
  • you will be unable to vote in person due to service as a juror for a federal or state court;
  • you are sixty (60) years of age or older;
  • you have a physical disability and an inaccessible polling place;
  • you are hospitalized, ill, or physically disabled and because of such condition, cannot vote in person;
  • you are the caretaker of a person who is hospitalized, ill, or disabled;
  • you are a candidate for office in the election;
  • you serve as an election day official or as a member or employee of the election commission;
  • you will be observing a religious holiday which prevents you from voting in person during the early voting period and on election day;
  • you possess a valid commercial driver license and you certify that you will be working outside the state or county of registration during the early voting period and all day on election day;
  • you are a member of the military or is an overseas citizen.

Apply for you absentee ballot

A registered voter may apply for an absentee ballot no earlier than ninety (90) days before the election and no later than seven (7) days before the election. 

Download, complete, print, and sign your Tennessee Absentee Ballot Application.  Mail your completed application to your County Election Commission

To be processed for the next election, the application must be received by your County Election Commission no later than seven (7) days before the election.  You may submit your absentee ballot application by mail or by fax

Receive, complete, and return your absentee ballot

The ballot itself is pretty straightforward.  Fill it out, seal the envelope, and sign where indicated.  If someone helped you fill out the absentee ballot, they must also sign where indicated.  Mail your absentee ballot back to your County Election CommissionYou cannot hand-deliver your ballot.  Your ballot must be received by the close of polls on election day. 

Additional Information

State Election Website: http://www.tennessee.gov/sos/election/
Email: tennessee.elections@state.tn.us
Local Election Officials: Your Local Election Official is the best person to contact if you have voting-related questions.  They'll be able to provide up-to-date information on rules and deadlines. 


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