Tennesseans with COVID-19 can vote in person at designated sites

Posted at 9:22 AM, Oct 28, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-03 11:59:51-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Tennessee voters with COVID-19 can vote in person at special sites.

A memo from Mark Goins, Coordinator of Elections, was sent out last Monday to all county election officials. It explained how the state will allow voters who are quarantining or who have tested positive for the virus vote in person Oct. 28 - Nov. 3.

These locations will be locked down just for people with COVID-19 or those who are showing symptoms.

Goins gave permission for county election commission offices to be used as voting sites for sick voters. He wrote in the memo that the polling sites at the county offices could get set up outside the building, weather permitting.

“Because normal polling locations are not suitable for voters with COVID-19, for the November 3, 2020 election, I grant statewide approval for the county election commission office to be designated as a voting site for any voter with COVID-19 symptoms,” Goins wrote.

Counties would need to post clear signs that direct voters to not enter the actual building.

Each site would also need to have bipartisan representation and four election officials present. The memo gave counties the option to set this up on Tuesday, Election Day. However, it's not a requirement.

Davidson County election officials finalized their protocol for voters diagnosed with COVID-19 on Wednesday, according to Administrator of Elections Jeff Roberts.

“Now that the October 27 deadline for requesting an Absentee Ballot has passed, voters testing positive from today forward need a safe way to exercise their right to vote,” Administrator of Elections Jeff Roberts said in a statement. “Knowing they must remain isolated from other voters and the general public, we will offer them the option of voting from their car at our Main Office.”

Roberts said voters should call the election office to reserve a time to vote on election day. Once a voting time is scheduled, the voter needs to bring a photo ID and proof of a positive COVID-19 test.

“After contacting the COVID-19 Hotline, which is open 7 a.m. – 7 p.m. daily, callers will be informed that proof of a positive test result dated after October 27 will be required,” Roberts continued in the statement. “Election Commission staff will follow up with the voter to explain what to expect on Election Day, confirm their address, and schedule a window of time for them to park and vote outside our office, located at 1417 Murfreesboro Pike. This way, we can have necessary paperwork prepared and solve any problems ahead of time, expediting the process, both for public safety and the safety of our staff.”

At the voting site, election officials wearing personal protective equipment will help voters while they stay in their cars.

"We will be providing PPE to the workers, very similar to what the folks who are testing individuals for COVID are wearing," Roberts said.

In Davidson County, the protocol is only available to being who received their COVID-19 diagnosis from Oct. 28 to Nov. 3.

"Because if you had an opportunity to request an absentee ballot, you would not qualify under this situation," Roberts said.

The Davidson County COVID-19 Hotline is 615-862-7777. Voters who test positive for COVID-19 from Wednesday through Election Day can schedule a safe voting experience until 4:30 p.m. on Nov. 3 (Election Day).

Many other Middle Tennessee counties have protocols similar to Davidson County when it comes to COVID-19 positive voters. Voters who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 and are registered in Cheatham, Wilson, Williamson, Montgomery, Rutherford and Dickson Counties are encouraged to call their county election office for details on when and where to safely cast a ballot.

Of the counties we reached out to, only Robertson County said they did not have a special voting plan for people who have tested positive for COVID-19 in the days leading up to election day.