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Ballot Basics: Early Voting Oct. 19-Nov. 3

By , Daily Memphian Updated: October 19, 2022 6:35 AM CT | Published: October 19, 2022 4:00 AM CT
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Early voting opens Wednesday, Oct. 19, across Shelby County at 26 locations ahead of the Nov. 8 election day.

Before voters begin making choices in the races, they will make a choice about how to vote. Shelby County’s new voting system begins with a choice between new voting machines and hand-marked paper ballots.

New voting machines prepped for start of early voting

Here are the 26 locations for early voting, Oct. 19-Nov. 3, and the hours of the sites. All 26 sites are open for all 14 days of early voting.

You can vote at any of the 26 sites regardless of where you live in Shelby County and regardless of your Election Day voting precinct location.

When you go to the first desk to sign the voter roll, you will be asked if you want to vote on the new voting machines or prefer a hand-marked paper ballot.

This is your choice, and you don’t need a reason to vote the hand-marked paper ballot as you did in the past.

You will not be asked whether you want to vote in a primary election or which primary you want since this ballot features general election races only.

Registration deadline shows changes in county’s voter demographics

Also, there are four ballot questions — proposed amendments to the Tennessee Constitution.

Here is the ballot.

On the ballot are state and federal elections, including the only statewide race of the year, the race for governor. In Shelby County, five of the six suburban towns and cities have municipal elections.

Memphis voters have two special elections to decide. One is to fill a vacancy in City Court Division 2 created when Judge Tarik Sugarmon was elected as the new Juvenile Court Judge in August.

The city court judge election is on the ballots of all Memphis voters.

The other special election is limited to voters in City Council District 4. The seat covering Orange Mound, South Memphis and Cooper-Young was vacated when Jamita Swearengen was elected Circuit Court Clerk in the August elections.

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If none of the four contenders get a simple majority of the votes cast, the top two will advance to a December runoff election.

Here is the Secretary of State’s tool for determining what district you live in for the state legislative races as well as the special City Council race.

If you vote on the new machines, they look different than the touch-screen voting machines used for the past 20 years.

But they are touch-screen machines — just an updated version with a component built in to record your choices on a paper readout that you can verify and then run through a separate digital scanner.

After you are done at the sign-in table, you will get either a paper ballot to mark by hand or a rectangular piece of paper with one of the upper corners cut off to use in the new voting machines.

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The hand-marked ballots are a matter of filling in the bubble or circle on the form, and the voting site will have pencils for you to use.

The first thing you will do at the new machines is put the rectangular piece of paper with the right corner cut into a slot marked with arrows next to the touch screen. That activates the screen with the usual indicators and then the ballot.

You vote the same way you have before — by touching the screen.

After you indicate you have completed marking your choices and want to cast your ballot, you will still get a review of what choices you have made on your screen. 

When you press the button a second time to cast your ballot, the machine will print the choices you have made on the rectangular piece of paper and dispense it to you with the choices you have made for you to review again.

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You then take it to a digital scanner which records your choices, and from there, the hard copy of your ballot choices rolls into a locked ballot box.

Your hand-marked paper ballot is run through the same scanner and into a locked ballot box.

If you “overvote” — that is, if you make more than one choice in a race on either the voting machines or your hand-marked paper ballot — you will be notified.

The touchscreen machines will notify you and will not let you overvote.

On the hand-marked paper ballots, the digital scanner will stop and alert you that you have overvoted and that you can get another ballot with the previous one being voided.

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If you decide to not correct the overvote and continue with the scanning, your vote in any race where you overvoted will not be counted. But your votes in other races will be counted.

The hand-marked paper ballots have a space for write-in votes.

On the machines, if you touch a write-in box on the screen, it will bring up a keyboard for you to type in the name you want.

In order for the Election Commission to count and tally as part of the official results your vote for a write-in candidate, that candidate must have notified election officials formally that they are a write-in candidate. Otherwise, the write-in votes are not tallied by name.

If you somehow forget to run your paper ballot or your paper readout of how you voted on the machines through the scanner at the end of this process, an election official might remind you.

If you leave the polling place with the piece of paper from either way of voting, you cannot come back in to scan it, and your vote will not be counted.


Ballot Basics early voting Nov. 8 2022 election new voting systems

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Bill Dries

Bill Dries

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


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