Voting today? Here's what you need to know before heading to the polls

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Posted at 12:54 PM, Nov 02, 2020
and last updated 2020-11-03 19:33:59-05

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — If you’re voting today, there are a few things to know before you head to the polls.

First thing, you must have an ID in order to cast a ballot. In Tennessee, any of the following IDs may be used, even if they're expired:

  • Tennessee driver 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
  • Tennessee handgun carry permit with your photo

Click here for more information on voting from the Tennessee Secretary of State's office.

Secondly, know when your polling place opens because in Tennessee, the times vary by county. Most polls in Middle Tennessee open at 7 a.m. Click here to see when your county polls open.

Also, allow plenty of time to vote in person. Even though Tennessee saw a record turnout during early voting, voters could still experience long lines due to COVID-19 precautions.

The Secretary of State's office also shared some additional tips about voting today:

  • Go to the polls mid-morning or mid-afternoon because early morning, noon and 5 p.m. are peak times.
  • Physically disabled, frail or visibly pregnant voters can talk to election officials if they are uncomfortable waiting line.
  • People will be encouraged to keep six feet between them and other voters.

What if I have COVID-19?

Voters who tested positive for COVID-19 can vote in person; however, they must do so at a designated location. These locations are locked down just for people with COVID-19 or those who are showing symptoms.

In Davidson County, Administrator of Elections Jeff 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.

The Davidson County COVID-19 Hotline is 615-862-7777. Voters who test positive for COVID-19 can schedule a safe voting experience until 4:30 p.m. today.

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.

However, 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.

Full story: Tennesseans with COVID-19 could vote in person at designated sites

What if I’m voting by absentee ballot?

Every county in Tennessee has a designated post office where absentee voters can drop off their completed ballot. While the deadline to request a mail-in ballot has passed, there is still plenty of time for voters to turn in their ballots.

The Tennessee Secretary of State's Office says mail ballots must be delivered by 3 p.m. local time on November 3.

If you requested an absentee ballot but decide at the last-minute to head to the polls, you can still vote in person. However, you must vote using what's called a provisional ballot and that process makes it more complicated for election officials.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, a bipartisan organization, a provisional ballot is “designed to ensure that all voters have a chance to cast a ballot even if their eligibility to vote is uncertain—are available at polling places in most states on Election Day. After the election, the ballots are investigated to determine if they will be counted.”

See a problem at the polls?

NewsChannel 5 is partnering with ProPublica's Electionland project, a nationwide media collaboration to track voting problems and election integrity. Text the word VOTE to 813-80 to sign up for the Electionland tipline and to submit any issue you experienced or witnessed when casting your ballot.

For help at the polls, you can also call the non-partisan Election Protection Hotline at 1-866-OUR-VOTE.

Don't forget: Campaign apparel is not allowed at the polls.

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