NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — The Davidson County Election Commission predicts, up to 50% of registered voters could decide to vote by mail this year. Normally, less than 2 percent vote that way.
Nearly all voters are eligible for an absentee ballot this year, after a Tennessee judge ruled last week that fear of the Coronavirus was a valid excuse to request an absentee ballot.
Davidson County Election Administrator Jeff Roberts says they were already expecting a lot of people to request a mail-in ballot anyway, so they've already printed off hundreds of ballots in advance. "We knew that the pandemic would probably increase the interest in absentee ballots," said Roberts.
Roberts tells NewsChannel 5, he's prepared to send out as many absentee ballots as are requested. Already, it's exceeded what they normally see. "Probably 350 [absentee] requests a day," said Roberts.
They've brought on 15 new staff members, just to handle the influx of mail. "We already have 2,500 ballots returned back to us," he said.
Critics of more people using mail-in ballots have pointed to the possibility of fraud. Roberts says, there aren't many documented cases but it is possible.
"Once you put something in the mail, you don’t know where it’s going, who’s touched it. Any of those kind of things. I can guarantee you, once it gets here, your ballot will be counted if you signed that absentee ballot," said Roberts.
It's also possible, the judge's decision to accept the fear of COVID-19 as an allowed excuse to vote absentee could be reversed in the courts. Roberts says they're going to keep preparing those ballots until they're told to stop.
"We have already gone back to the printer twice," he said.
If voters don't want to vote via absentee ballot, early voting begins Friday, July 17, 2020 and runs until Saturday, August 1, 2020. All eleven early voting precincts will be open throughout the duration of early voting.
Tennessee's state and local primary will be held Thursday, August 6th. Roberts says all poll workers will be wearing PPE and will enforce social distancing.
Click here for more information and to request an absentee ballot in the state of Tennessee.
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