Voter registration deadlines: What you need to know in Tennessee, Virginia

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(WJHL)- Election Day is just over 30 days away.

Election officials in the Tri-Cities said their offices have been swarmed with ballot requests and voter registrations.

News Channel 11’s Pheben Kassahun explains the rapidly approaching deadlines you need to know if you plan to vote.

Election offices in Tennessee, are racing against time to ensure that their voters get the information they need to register to vote before the deadline, Monday.

The Unicoi County Election Commission Office is working to get everyone eligible, registered to vote.

“The biggest thing at the moment is we want people to be registered to vote, because the most disappointing thing, of course, is when they decide that a week or two before the election they’ve decided to vote and all of a sudden they realized they missed the 30-day deadline,” Unicoi County Election Commission administrator of elections, Sarah Fain said.

Requirements to register to vote in Tennessee include: providing a Tennessee driver license, social security number, date of birth and a Tennessee residential address.

“I have already mailed out about 350 absentee ballots. In fact, we have received about 150 of those back. Those are locked in the ballot boxes to be counted on election day,” Fain said.

The fear of COVID-19 cannot not be a reason to vote by mail, in Tennessee.

“In Tennessee, you do have to have a valid reason to vote by mail, which one of the reasons is you might be over 60, or that you have perhaps a preexisting condition, or you are more at risk for the COVID or a caretaker for someone who is at risk for COVID,” Fain explained.

Across state lines, anyone who wants to vote by mail in Virginia, can.

Washington County, Virginia director of elections, Derek Lyall said, “We’ve mailed over 3,400 ballots to voters here in Washington County so far. We’ve received nearly 1,000 of those ballots back so far.”

The requirements to register to vote in Virginia are largely the same as Tennessee which includes, providing a Virginia driver license and a resident of the precinct in which you want to vote, social security number, date of birth, your Virginia residential address.

Registering online is also an option in both Tennessee and Virginia.

Lyall said, “I would just encourage voters to fully complete the form and if they have any questions, they should feel free to contact us and we should feel free to contact us and we’ll be happy to answering questions, help guide them through the registration process.”

Election offices are implementing safety measures to help protect against the spread of coronavirus.

Lyall added, “All of our staff working at the early voting location at our office, they’re wearing masks. Washing hands frequently, utilizing hand sanitizer. We’re encouraging voters to wear a mask when they come in to vote.”

“We’re going to have sneeze guards in front of all of the workers, as far as when you’re filling out paper work. We have floor stickers to encourage social distancing,” Fain said.

Everyone who plans to vote in Tennessee must register by this Monday, October 5.

  • Absentee ballot deadlines for Tennessee:
    Request: Oct. 27
    Return by mail: Received by Nov. 3 by close of polls
  • Early voting
    Oct. 14 – Oct. 29 (dates and hours may vary based on where you live)

More information on Tennessee absentee voting and early voting can be found here.

The deadline for Virginia is Tuesday, October 13.

  • Absentee ballot deadlines for Virginia:
    Request: Oct. 23
    Return by mail: Postmarked by Nov. 3
    Return in person: Nov. 3 by 7:00 p.m.
  • Early voting
    Sep. 18 – Oct. 31 (dates and hours may vary based on where you live)

More information on Virginia absentee voting and early voting can be found here.

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