Civics 101: How are elections run in Tennessee?

J. H. Osborne • May 13, 2019 at 1:30 PM

This week in Civics 101 we take a look at how elections are administered in Tennessee.

• At the state level, elections fall under the Tennessee Secretary of State’s Office.

• The Tennessee State Election Commission is composed of seven members: four from the political party holding a majority of seats in the Tennessee General Assembly and three from the minority party. These individuals are elected for a term of four years. This is the only commission in Tennessee state government which is elected wholly by the Tennessee General Assembly.

• The seven members chosen by the legislature on Feb. 14, 2019 include Donna Barrett, Murfreesboro; Judy Blackburn, Morristown; Greg Duckett, Memphis; Mike McDonald, Portland; Jimmy Wallace, Jackson; Tom Wheeler, Clinton; and Kent Younce, LaFollette.

• To be eligible to serve on the State Election Commission, one must be at least 25 years old, a resident of Tennessee for at least seven years, and a resident of the grand division of the state from which one seeks election for at least four years preceding the appointment.

• The State Election Commission meets quarterly (January, April, July, and October) unless a meeting is deemed necessary by the chairman or secretary of the State Election Commission.

Local level

• The State Election Commission is responsible for appointing five county election commissioners for every county in the state. This is done on the first Monday in April in every odd-numbered year. After making such appointments, the state commissioners then monitor the activities and performance of the county election commissioners and shall remove a county election commissioner for violation of the oath of office or if that person is no longer qualified to hold the position. As at the state level, county election commissions are split based on party affiliation, with the party in a majority at the state level having three slots and the minority party having two slots.

• Each county’s election commission appoints an administrator of elections. The county administrator of elections is responsible for organizing all matters related to local elections in the county (and its cities), including voter and candidate registration, conducting the elections, and tallying the vote.

Sources: Tennessee Secretary of State; Williamson County Tennessee Election Commission


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