As citizens of the state of Tennessee and of the United States of America, it is not only our right, but our duty to cast our votes. This is a huge responsibility but one that is relatively easy to take on. Below you will learn step-by-step how to vote in Tennessee, and more specifically, Shelby County.
Time Required: Less than one hour
- Register to vote. This link will provide you with everything you need to know to register to vote, but to sum it up, most Tennessee residents who are 18 or older may register to vote. This may be done by mail or in person by filling out a brief application.
- Familiarize yourself with the candidates. You cannot be a responsible voter unless you are an informed voter. It is unfair to your fellow citizens to vote for someone whom you know little or nothing about. Ontheissues.org is a wonderful resource for finding out what each candidate stands for and believes in. The website maintains information for both state and federal officials. For city and county elections, you may obtain a list of candidates at the Shelby County Election Commission website.
- Locate your precinct. Every registered voter is assigned a location at which to vote. This location is based upon your home address. The Shelby County Election Commission website can give you your precinct when you input your address. This information can also be found on your voter's registration card or by calling (901) 545-4123. It is worth noting that during "early voting," registered voters may vote at any early voting location.
- Familiarize yourself with the voting machine. Though casting a ballot is easier than ever these days, the task of operating a voting machine may seem a bit daunting if you have never done it before. Fortunately, there are several resources at your disposal. First, there is an online voting machine simulator that will walk you through the process. For a more hands-on experience, many polling locations will have a demo machine that you can check out before you go in to vote. Finally, poll workers are happy to assist you if you need help or have questions while voting.
- Head to the polls. You've registered to vote, you've picked a candidate, and you know how to cast a ballot. Now it's time to get to the polls. While you're at it, why not encourage a friend or family member to vote, as well?
- Tennessee residents must be registered to vote no later than 30 days before an election, in order to participate in that election.
- If you will be out of town on election day or meet other select criteria, you may vote by mail by requesting an absentee ballot from the Election Commission.
- You do not have to declare a party when registering to vote. In fact, the only time you must declare a party is when voting in the presidential primaries.
- Registered voters must present either their voter's registration card or valid state ID at the polls when going to vote.
- There is no fee to register to vote.
What You Need
- A voter's registration card
- Knowledge of the candidates and the election