Election 2020

Ballot Basics: Early voting July 17-Aug. 1

By , Daily Memphian Updated: July 20, 2020 3:31 PM CT | Published: July 17, 2020 4:00 AM CT
<strong>Early voting begins Friday, July 17 in advance of the Aug. 6 election day, with polling places at 26 locations across Shelby County.</strong> (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian file)

Early voting begins Friday, July 17 in advance of the Aug. 6 election day, with polling places at 26 locations across Shelby County. (Patrick Lantrip/Daily Memphian file)

It’s called the August election. But early voting opens Friday, July 17.

If this is your first time voting in Shelby County, here is what you need to know about voting and which races will be on your ballot.

Twenty-six locations countywide are open throughout the 14-day period excluding Sundays. Here are the locations and hours. The new location among the 26 is Briarwood Church in Cordova. It is a replacement for Bellevue Baptist Church in Cordova, which was unavailable for this election.

All of the early voting sites have pandemic preparations, including frequent cleaning of all surfaces such as the touchscreen voting machines. The voting machines will be spaced six feet apart as part of larger social distancing measures that apply to any lines of voters and contact with election workers.

Elections workers will wear face shields and gloves and encourage voters to wear masks. In Memphis, a city ordinance requires masks to be worn in such an indoor setting.

A limited supply of masks will be available at polling places on a first-come, first-served basis.

Acrylic barriers will separate voters from polling place workers when voters show up to sign in, and disposable pens will be used for those who vote provisional ballots.

There will also be plastic bags available to cover arms and hands for those who want to make no direct contact with any surfaces, including the touchscreen machines. There will also be disposable styli available to use in making choices on the touchscreens.

If you still have concerns, you have through July 30 to apply to vote absentee – a hand-marked paper ballot that is mailed to voters and then mailed back by voters.


Ballot Basics: Absentee voting for beginners


You can vote early at any of the 26 locations regardless of where you live in Shelby County and the ballot should have your specific district races for the U.S. House, Tennessee Legislature and (for Collierville residents) Collierville Municipal Judge.

Every ballot in the county will have district races for the U.S. House and the state House as well as the statewide U.S. Senate primaries and the countywide race for General Sessions Court Clerk.

Because state Senate seats are on a staggered schedule, some but not all ballots will have those races.

Anyone living in Memphis or unincorporated Shelby County will have a district race for the Shelby County Schools board.

Check your ballot before you vote to see that it has the correct Congressional district. If it doesn’t, stop and call for a poll worker.

Here is the Election Commission tool to find out which districts you are in.

The tool also will show you your election day precinct. That’s if you vote on election day, Aug. 6 – not early voting or absentee.

It’s a bit tricky to use, so here is the walk-through:

Type in your address and then confirm it with the address with city and ZIP code that will show up below where you entered your address.

A black rectangular box will show up on a map saying “search result” and “1 of 1” or “1 of 2”. Click on the black dot partially obscured by the box. That will bring up an arrow on the right side of the black rectangular box. Click on that. Then click on the sideways arrow in the light blue bar of the screen that appears.

You will see not only your districts in this and other elections but all of the races on your ballot this time, including those specific district races and the candidates in every race on your specific ballot.

If that’s too small of a display or you want a paper sample ballot to mark with our choices to use as a guide, here are the ballots to print out at page size.

Democratic primaryRepublican primarygeneral election

These ballots don’t have just your specific district races on them. They have all of the district races. So look up your district races and mark them on your sample ballot

Here are the identity requirements to vote.

The deadline to register to vote in this election was July 7. If you registered after that date, you are set for the Nov. 3 election.

Tennessee is an open primary state, meaning you do not declare your party affiliation when you register to vote. So at the early voting site, you will be asked in which primary you want to vote. You can vote in either regardless of what your choices have been in a past election.

Or you can vote in neither and only vote the general election ballot. If you vote in either of the primaries, your ballot will include the general election races.

Once you pick your party, that choice applies to all primary races on this ballot. In other words, if you vote in the Republican U.S. Senate primary, you will also be voting in the Republican Congressional and Tennessee Legislature primaries.

Same for the Democratic side of this. You cannot vote in one party in one primary then switch parties in another contest.

We will be watching the early voter turnout throughout the period @bdriesdm. We get the turnout by early voting site as well as the precinct that voters live in regardless of where they choose to vote. We also get numbers on how many have voted in the Democratic primary and how many voted in the Republican primary. But we don’t know for whom you voted.

You will find coverage at The Daily Memphian including election night coverage of the vote count, the path to the August and November elections and how those who win make the transition from campaigning to governing.

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early voting 2020 Election Ballot Basics
Bill Dries

Bill Dries

Bill Dries covers city government and politics. He is a native Memphian and has been a reporter for more than 40 years.


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