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Civics 101: Registering to vote in Tennessee

J.H. Osborne • Oct 1, 2018 at 1:45 PM

Last week in Civics 101, we talked about ways you can participate in government. One of the most direct ways is by voting in local, state and federal elections.

But to do so, you need to be a registered voter. So this week we’re offering some basic information about registering to vote.

• In Tennessee, you register to vote by county (even if you live in a city). In Sullivan County, registration records are kept by the Sullivan County Election Commission (SCEC).

• The SCEC’s offices are located at 3258 Highway 126, Blountville (phone 323-6444, email [email protected]).

• A voter registration application is required to be filed with your county election commission no later than 30 days prior to the first election in which you want to vote.

• For our upcoming November elections, for state and federal offices, the deadline to become a registered voter (if you aren’t already) is Oct. 9.

• In Tennessee, we do not register by party. No one is a “registered Democrat” or “registered Republican.” This is why you might hear Tennessee referred to as an “open primary state.”

• A new voter registration cannot be faxed, emailed or submitted online. It can be mailed or delivered in person. You can, however, print a voter registration online at www.scelect. That’s the SCEC’s website, which includes answers to many questions about voting and elections.

• If you move from one county to another within Tennessee, you must submit a new voter registration application in your new county.

• If you are registered and move within the same county, you need to update your address prior to showing up the next time you go to the polls to avoid delays.

• Wondering if your voter registration is valid? You can look it up online at https://tnmap.tn.gov/voterlookup/.

• What do you need to bring with you to the polls? A voter registration card is not required, but a government-issued photo ID is, and acceptable examples (even if expired) include: a Tennessee driver’s license; a U.S. passport; Tennessee handgun permit with your photo; a photo ID issued by either the Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security or the federal government; and a U.S. military photo ID.

• While the way you vote is known only to you, your voter records are public information. This means others won’t be able to know for which candidates you voted, but the list of which elections you choose to participate in is an open record.

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