Hamilton County Administrator of Elections, Kerry Steelman strongly encourages all eligible voters to make the decision now whether to vote in-person or by absentee ballot.
Eligible voters can request their absentee ballot now by contacting their local election office or by visiting elect.hamiltontn.gov. When the ballots have final approval, they will be immediately sent out to all of those who have requested them.
For the August elections, Hamilton County experienced a 1300% percent increase in absentee ballots and is planning on at least a 600-800% increase in November.
Steelman related that they found no issue with mail-in ballots for the August elections due to the USPS backlog. He also stated that the USPS was very cooperative in ensuring proper delivery and return of the ballots with no noticed slowing of service.
However, Steelman expressed that, “In-person voting is still the best option.”
By law, polling stations cannot require voters to wear masks or other protective gear. Steelman stated that several polling stations had to be relocated for the August elections because the individual establishments necessitated a mask requirement.
However, voters can expect the November poll stations to be “controlled, sanitary environments”, according to Steelman.
All election station workers will be wearing masks or face shields and single use gloves.
In addition, for each polling station, there will be one worker who has the sole responsibility of cleaning and disinfecting the polling station routinely throughout the day in accordance with CDC COVID-19 guidelines.
This worker also has the responsibility of enforcing social distancing guidelines as prescribed by the CDC.
Sanitizing gel will be provided for workers and voters at all poll stations.
A single-use pen or disposable stylus and a folder will be provided for each voter. Each voter is encouraged to take the pen or stylus with them as they leave the polling station.
In Tennessee, voters must have a valid legal reason to be eligible to vote by absentee ballot. This includes eligible voters who are particularly vulnerable to COVID-19 and are unable to appear at their polling station on election day or the 13 days of early voting that precede it. Caretakers of someone who is vulnerable to the virus are also eligible to vote by absentee.
Important dates for Hamilton County voters:
Voter registration deadline: October 5, 2020
Absentee ballot request deadline: October 27, 2020
Early voting: October 14 through October 29, 2020
Election Day: November 3, 2020 For more information about the November Presidential election and to check on your voter registration, visit elect.hamiltontn.gov