Election Commission caught up on nearly 17,000 absentee ballot applications

By , Daily Memphian Updated: July 27, 2020 5:57 PM CT | Published: July 27, 2020 12:04 PM CT

Shelby County Election Commission workers have caught up to the backlog of absentee voting applications, but there’s a warning as well.

Elections Administrator Linda Phillips says those who complete mail-in ballots and send them close to the Aug. 6 election day may have to use a private delivery service to ensure their votes arrive by the time the polls close on election day.

<strong>Linda Phillips</strong>

Linda Phillips

“As Aug. 6 nears, it becomes more and more critical that people get their ballots back into the mail immediately,” Phillips said in an email Monday, July 27. “Once they are mailed, how fast people receive the ballots and are returned to the Election Commission is dependent on the USPS. I urge every voter to complete the ballot and get it back in the mail the same day, if possible.”

The deadline for the completed and signed ballots is when they arrive at the Election Commission, not when they are postmarked. Absentee ballots cannot be hand-delivered to election officials in Tennessee. They must arrive by mail or a private delivery service.

Check on whether your ballot application has been processed by calling 901-222-6800 or visit the Election Commission website.

The deadline to request an absentee ballot is Thursday, July 30. Meanwhile, early voting at 26 locations across Shelby County continues through Saturday.

Ballot Basics: Absentee voting for beginners

Through Saturday, a total of 36,039 Shelby County voters had cast early and absentee ballots. Of that total 23,168 voted in the Democratic primary and 12,568 in the Republican primary. The remaining 303 voted in the general election only.

Absentee ballots completed and received by the Election Commission accounted for 3,324 or 9.2% of the total for the early voting period.

On Sunday, July 26, the Election Commission processed the last 439 absentee ballot applications it had received before Monday’s first mail dump of the day.

That brought the total number of applications received so far to 16,853. The ballots for those requests processed Sunday were to be in the mail to voters Monday.

“We are hoping from here on out we will be able to mail the ballots out on the same day the applications are received,” Phillips said.

The normal number of absentee votes cast in local elections is about 1,000.

A total of 4,335 absentee votes were counted in the November 2018 midterm elections in Shelby County. The total turnout – election day, early voting and absentee – of 51.1% was the first majority turnout for something other than a presidential general election in Shelby County since the 1994 midterm elections.

By court order, the absentee voting process for the August elections allows Tennessee voters who have concerns for their health in the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic to request an absentee ballot because of those concerns. However, new voters who registered to vote online and not in person for this election are not eligible to vote absentee.

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2020 Election Absentee ballots Shelby County Election Commission
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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